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Applying for Patent for an Idea

Applying for Patent for an Idea

Applying for Patent for an Idea

Hey guys,

I receoently drafted up a conceptual idea I have for a product which will enhance similiar products that are popular in the market. Note I am a structural engineer that designs bridges and buildings but realize that I can apply my skills to general consumer items which I drive my wife crazy complaining about the overall design of some consumer goods...

I am a licensed professional engineer in several states and believe I can provide the technical detils associated with my product including (but not limited to) technical drawings with dimensions and associated assembly details, technical specifications on respective materials/components, design calculations, and enginering sign/seal as necessary - i.e. all the details a manufacturer would need to build my item. This is following the same methodology I apply when designing bridges, buildings, repairs, etc for respective clients.

Ultimately my quesiton is, any of you engineers out there involved in this part of the business? I am assuming after I produce the above details I would have to file a patent application. If any of you can give me a general guide in how to proceed before I embark on the above items it would be great! I searched in my area and it is oversaturated with patent attorneys.

Any help would be great!!!


RE: Applying for Patent for an Idea

Good luck.

RE: Applying for Patent for an Idea

You don't necessarily need an attorney, but you do need a patent agent. Don't know what else to say but start digging and calling to find someone willing to let you do your own legwork. (My dad was his own agent later in his career. That's where I learned what little I know.)

Meanwhile, start reading and writing. Start drafting your claims. Figure out what makes your invention unique and patentable and draft your claims accordingly. Concentrate on a couple solid independent claims. Dependent claims aren't what gives a patent heft.

All patents are available on the USPTO website. Look for prior art that may negate your patent. This is the first thing your agent will do. Might as well do it yourself.

It's harder to find rejected patents, but that is also important. If your idea or a similar to one was previously rejected, your odds aren't good. It's also possible your idea was a rejected part of a patent that was later granted ("estoppel").

Very few patents result in profit.

Do not let any fly-by-night "inventor agency" talk you into a design patent. These are worthless.

RE: Applying for Patent for an Idea

Most everybody in product development should have experience with USPTO, so this site should be a wealth of knowledge in that regard. In general, there are a few different strategies regarding patents. Time to market in industry is often critical and the process rather lengthy/complex (read S-L-O-W), so there is definitely something to be said for simply paying a lawyer to expedite (if possible) and prevent headaches. OTOH, a DIY'er can still file a paten application themself for relatively little. US law actually requires USPTO to provide assistance in writing patents and free education. There are various webinars and process details on the USPTO website. Personally, I have worked with the corporate attorneys to file quite a few patents and am actually midway through filing one on my own sans lawyer purely for my own education, tho I do intend to continue filing others myself for bragging/resume purposes.

RE: Applying for Patent for an Idea

I have three patents, and the process for each one was different.

First, the offering of a "Design Patent" as mentioned above may be your only choice on the type of patent you can get. If this is as you have suggested, "a product which will enhance similiar [sic] products that are popular in the market."

If you are offering something that enhances or improves on an already patented product or a product that has been available to the public for a year, then you are offering an "Improvement" and a "design patent" may be your only option.

The fact that you are the "Inventor" and will also be the "Assignee Name" then you will have a stronger patent; yet it will guarantee little.

The first step is to start your own data base search on http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-adv.htm
This is an old Boolean site and typing in the search criteria takes practice. I even had a hard time finding my own patents.
It will take you a long time, weeks maybe months, to filter through all of the existing patents. There are search help tips, you have to enter codes with your search criteria. It really sucks.

Once you find what you are searching for, there will be a long list of patents that have search criteria similar to yours. You need to read all of them to see if it is applicable to your idea.

Take a look at the images that come with the patents. These are the type of drawings you will have to generate.
Read the abstract for each patent. You will have to write this.
Read the Claims. You will have to make a list of the benefits of your idea.

Then read the description, you will be writing the background of the invention, the description, a definition of the drawings and a detailed description of every component in the invention.

I always used a patent attorney once I had all of this completed. Then they will re-write and re-draw everything for you. They will also do another search. They will interview you and get all of the information required. They will put your writings into legal jargon.

I ran into several patents similar to one of my designs. I had to design around them. In the end, I could only patent a small valve that made my invention better than what was already on the market. I was pretty disappointed, but I got a design patent that solved a major problem, and that allowed a niche into the market.

Remember not to try and bring your idea to market until you apply. Anything available to the public for a year is not patentable.

Good luck, happy reading.

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