How Small-Business Owners Can Patent a Great Idea?

If you want your small business to stand out even in a crowded market, then it’s important to be creative and invent something unique. This is the best way to really showcase what you are capable of and bring in the solutions that people actually need. Getting a patent for your invention is just as important. After all, it doesn’t matter who invents something, what matters is who gets credit for it and who registers the patent first. Even if the radio came from Nikola Tesla, Guglielmo Marconi has the patent for it.

What you need to learn from this is you always need to apply for a patent if you want to protect your product. Otherwise you might end up having your competitors due that for your ideas. It can happen, so it makes sense to understand how you can get a patent for your ideas and how you can apply for it.

What types of patents are there?

One thing to note about patents is that they can pertain to a variety of categories, as you will notice below. First, you have the utility patents that are offered to people that invent anything useful, be it a process, machine, matter composition and so on. Then there are design patents, which are provided to people that create new, different designs for manufacturing. Lastly, you have the less common plant patents that can be acquired by people that invent a new plant variety.

Learning how a patent help your business

There are many different ways you can harness the power of a patent. One of the main benefits of getting a patent is that you get to protect your idea. Each one of us has different idea, and some of them can be very valuable. It makes a lot of sense to create a patent for your idea, as it will help you make sure that no one will be able to steal it or use it without your consent. If they do, they you can sue them and make most of your money back from the entire thing.

Some say that it’s better to make the product, generate sales and attention from the other companies and then acquire a patent. This can be a double-edged sword, as they might be able to get the patent before you. Which is why you need to protect your intellectual property as much as you can. Once you protect your IP or create a patent, it will be harder for anyone to mess with it or even use it. Basically, the patent will be yours, and you are the only person that can allow others to use your ideas. If not, then you can sue them and get paid the desired amount.

Preparing to file for a patent

If you’re certain that your idea is unique, no one has it and you can use it to help people in some way, then you can go ahead and create a patent. The thing to note here is that you need to be 100% sure there are no other previously filed patents, as that will make things a whole lot better.

  • When you apply for a patent, you have to disclose the nature of your invention and a detailed written description. It’s possible to add renderings or drawings that showcase the patent itself and what you are trying to achieve with it.
  • A patent is only issued to a person, it’s not in the name of a company or a group, so try to take that into consideration.
  • When you apply for a patent, you will need to pay around $130 for a small entity patent fee, however if you create a patent for mechanical devices that will cost you up to $2000. There are fees like a search fee, examination fee and the issue fee listed above. All of these will differ based on where you live and the type of patent you want to create. Either way, you need to be prepared to spend some money when you file for a patent, this is not a free process.

Steps you need to follow when you’re filling for a patent

  1. Search the United States Patent and Trademark Office for any patent similar to yours. You want to be 100% sure that no one actually has a patent like yours.
  2. Once that is done and you are certain you can go onward, then you must find the right patent attorney. He will guide you when it comes to what steps to take, how can you speed up the process and so on.
  3. You need to pick from one of the 3 patent types mentioned above.
  4. After you do that, you will need to file a provisional patent application. The idea here is that you want protection in case someone comes afterwards claiming that they had this idea beforehand. The US patent law clearly states that this system focuses on who files for a patent first, not who invents it. That’s why it’s risky to create something new to the market and not file a patent for it.
  5. Make sure that you become a registered eFiler. Handle the eFiler registration and then go to their filing resources. You can send the patent application via fax or email or the USPTO website.
  6. Gain information form the formal application. This means you will need to prepare a detailed description, a summary, background, abstract, scope and so on. This is where it makes sense to work with a patent attorney, as he is specialized in this field and he will be able to help you. Once you complete the formal application, review it and complete the process.
  7. After you send the patent application, it can take up to 3 years to acquire a patent, so you do need to check and make sure everything is done properly and without errors. Otherwise you will end up with your patent being rejected and you have to file for a patent once again.

Are there any expedited examination options?

Yes, the USPTO Patent Application Initiatives Timeline shows multiple different options with initiatives and programs that can take place during each application phase. The progress will continue to advance and you can obtain the necessary assistance and support.

Is it possible to file for an international patent?

There are many situations where companies don’t want to file for the same patent in every country. Thanks to the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the US can help you file your patent in the country and up to 150 contracting states. This makes it easy to protect your invention in multiple countries at the same time. It certainly brings in a much better efficiency and result, without having to spend a lot of time waiting for anything.

What is the Notice of Allowance?

In case the examiner believes the application is satisfactory and it meets the requirements, then you will receive this notice. It shows the fees and it might also include things like the publication fees. Normally the reissue and utility patents will be issued within a month after the publication and issue fee are received at the office. Then the patent grant is mailed right on the issue date.

Is the patent permanent? Do you need to perform any actions to maintain your patent?

Even if you received the patent, that doesn’t mean everything is over. Instead, you will need to pay maintenance fees to maintain the patent. If you don’t pay these fees, the patent will end up expiring. You will be notified when you have to pay these fees, usually it’s every 4 years, but it can be different based on the kind of patent you have right now.

Other ways to protect your intellectual property

Aside from filing a patent, there are other ways you can protect your intellectual property. For example, you can make the ownership public. Or you can document every conversation to have proof in case someone steals your ideas. In addition, you want people to sign NDAs because they offer great protection against any type of theft. You also want to ask collaborators and workers to sign a non-compete agreement, just to be safe. It’s also possible to use the blockchain or you can pay $100 to file a patent-pending application that will protect your idea for a year.

Conclusion

Every small business needs to protect its ideas and intellectual properties, so filing for a patent is extremely helpful. We recommend you to file for a patent as soon as you have a product idea, because you want to be the first person on file with the idea. As we mentioned earlier, the first person filing for a patent is the one that will get it, so you need to act quickly here and protect your ideas. All small businesses need to understand that protecting their ideas can help prevent many legal battles and problems in the long run. Plus, this is the best way to keep your ideas safe!