“What information do I need before filing a patent application?”
This is a question we get asked on a regular basis and one which is even more important to address now that inventors or research and development teams are likely to be working from home, at a distance from each other or at a time when not all labs have re-opened.
One of the best first steps to take is utilising the current situation to look at the trigger points that will help to identify the best time for filing your patent application.
As many of you will know, patent applications remain confidential for the first 18 months – until they are published. If you are a regular reader of our blog you will know that there should be no publication or disclosure of your invention prior to applying for a patent. Therefore an ideal time to be thinking about applying for a patent is when you are early in the product development life cycle, before any disclosures. This is so your invention meets the minimum novelty requirement. Delaying a patent application for too long could potentially mean you miss out on claiming that priority and on protecting your invention.
Your invention needs to describe an inventive step. It should constitute a technical solution to a technical problem, an improvement on a drawback of an existing technology, or a way of overcoming obstacles. Does your idea help overcome disadvantages of a known technology or process?
With these criteria in mind, it is important to know that consulting a patent attorney at this stage will help you clarify the best way forward for your idea. A common myth is that you may need to have a prototype or to demonstrate your invention works before applying for a patent. This is not the case. A Patent Attorney will be able to discuss your options during an initial consultation. Many firms offer a free initial consultation, we certainly do at Murgitroyd.
So how do you best prepare for that first meeting with a Patent Attorney?
Write-up an outline of your ideas but make sure to keep them confidential. If possible, prepare visual aids that best describe your invention, perhaps a presentation of the main advantages of your invention as you see them and examples of how your invention can be put into practice. This preparation is absolutely key in helping you make the most of your time with the patent attorney.
Remember, the sooner you have these discussions, the better the outcomes you can expect. An early conversation could save you both time and money and help you towards securing that first patent.
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