Author: Leon Presser
Patents are used to protect inventions. In the United States a patent grants to the inventor a monopoly over his/her invention for twenty years from the filing date of the patent application. The monopoly includes use, manufacture and sale of the invention. Further, in the United States a patent prevents others from importing into the United States the patented invention.
Patents are considered the strongest form of legal protection you can obtain for intellectual property.
A serious problem for new entrepreneurs is that patents are time-consuming and costly to obtain. Procuring a patent in the United States can take three to four years and cost well over $15,000 when you seek the help of an intellectual property lawyer.
To obtain foreign patent protection, you must file a patent application in each country in which you desire protection, since each country has its own patent laws. Thus, more expenses.
Owning a patent can be a major business advantage. However, applying for one is a costly and time-consuming effort that will affect your business operation. If you are a starting entrepreneur with limited funds, or a struggling small company, applying for a patent is an onerous undertaking.
There is an alternative in the United States: a simplified approach to a patent application called aProvisional Application for Patent.
You can file a Provisional Application for Patent which will provide you intellectual property protection for up to a year. You must, however, file the full patent application (i.e., the non-provisional patent application) within one year or you may lose substantial rights. The filing fee for a provisional patent currently ranges between $130 and $260, and the documentation required is much simpler than the application for a non-provisional patent.
The advantages of filing a Provisional Application for Patent are:
1. It represents an inexpensive strategy that you can employ while you explore the marketplace before you invest the effort and the many thousand of dollars required to file for a full patent. In other words, it can buy you time to determine if filing a full patent application is the right allocation of your resources. In particular, it gives you legal protection while you talk to investors, potential customers, possible subcontractors and others.
2. As long as the full patent application is filed within twelve months of the filing of the provisional application, the filing date will be the date of the filing of the provisional application. This could be quite valuable if you are trying to beat a competitor by establishing an earlier filing date.
3. It provides you with up to a year of additional time to carry out research and prepare for the filing of a non-provisional patent application.
4. It allows you to claim ‘patent pending’ status which may result in a valuable marketing advantage.
You should be aware that current patent laws in the United States are the subject of much criticism. As a result, for a number of years, the Congress of the United States has been considering reforming the laws on how patents are awarded and litigated. It behooves you to keep abreast of any new legislation in this area.
Of course, I must tell you that I do cover this topic and related issues in more detail in the book. I do want you to read the book. I also encourage you to go to the book’s website (www.whatittakestobeanentrepreneur.com) and subscribe so that you will be notified each time a new post occurs.
(Some of the material in this post utilizes information from various references listed in the book)