Two great tools for inventors that won’t break your banking accounts: provisional patent applications and trademarks.
Successfully licensing an invention or getting a product to advertise requires research and the ability to talk to people about your invention. It is actually impossible for a manufacturer or retail buyer to agree to a product or service without seeing it.
For good reason, many inventors are hesitant to share their invention with people they don’t know. Further, once an invention is shared publicly, international patent rights could be lost, as well as the one-year timeline within which a Usa patent application must be filed generally has started to tick. For this reason, many inventors rush out and file a complete-blown, invention ideas. That addresses the uncertainties and in addition enables inventors to alert people that their invention is “patent pending.”
However, this approach has several downsides. First, utility patents and even patent applications can cost many thousands of dollars. Ultimately, an inventor could find that this expense outweighs the benefit. Second, in the early stages, most invention designs continue to be evolving. Filing a patent too soon could imply that it doesn’t actually reflect probably the most evolved designs and drawings. Third–and a lot important, i think–this investment has become made before an inventor has conducted real market research to validate marketability in the product.
Two solutions that a great many inventors–myself included–use are going to file provisional patent applications and trademark applications to the invention and product name or logo.
These applications provide the best of both worlds. At a fraction of the price of a utility patent application, a provisional patent application is not actually a patent. It never will convert to some patent or become public, unless further action is taken. A provisional patent application is a like a place holder. Basically, you happen to be laying claim to the filing date of your provisional patent application when and if you elect to file for a full utility patent around twelve months from the time you file your provisional patent application. So if you choose to file a provisional patent application on March 1, 2010, and you then elect to file a utility patent application eleven months afterwards February 1, 2011, the priority date to your utility patent application will be regarded as March 1, 2010, for many material substantively disclosed and enabled within your provisional application.
From the date you file your provisional patent application, you have the legal right to write down “patent pending” on your prototype and show it to whomever you want. In the process, you will not lose your international patent rights and might still elect to file your utility patent application. However it offers you 12 months to produce your products or services and gain market information prior to deciding to actually must make your ultimate decision on if you should file utility and international patent applications.
While technically you are able to write and file this application yourself, I would suggest you do it with a few guidance and, at the least, an evaluation from a patent invention.
Every product carries a name, or it ought to. Once you begin using the name with prospective licensees and customers, the invention actually becomes symbolic of the name. We have seen this happen again and again. And then there are merely a lot of names a product or service might take that fulfill the criteria of being both catchy and able to be registered.
So give as much shown to names for your personal product as you possibly can, and may include queries about the name within your market research. After you select your preferred name, trademark the name. When you speak with prospective licensees, utilize the name. (Note: I did not say you should tell them you will be hooked on the name). However, if they become used to your product’s name, they will likely visit your trademark as another valuable asset you are bringing to the table. And it also may further limit potential encroachment from likely competitors or knockoff products.
The underpinnings of trademark law are founded about the principle of first in use, first in right. Filing of your trademark application typically constitutes use, but so does simply while using trademark. Actually, in some states you should make use of the trademark publicly before filing a trademark application, and also in the federal trademark system, a trademark must be used in interstate commerce before it may register. Therefore, make use of trademark.
Once you’ve settled on and adopted your trademark you must identify it as a trademark through the use of either ™ or ® as appropriate. Examine your local state laws regarding the usage of.
In many states, trademark rights may be asserted regionally free of charge, just by using the T into a product (completed by typing the letters “t” and “m” between two parentheses. The writing program automatically shrinks and raises it to offer the T appearance.)
Second, a trademark could be registered with all the U.S. Patent and Trademark office and overseas. It is a faster process, taking only 10 to 14 months. Once it can be registered as a United states federally registered trademark, take advantage of the ® (also typed by inserting the “r” between parentheses).
I have always mentioned that intellectual property, patents, trademarks and copyrights are just tools with your inventing tool box. Using the right tool can be extremely valuable. The nicest thing about inventor ideas is that it can purchase you time to find out which other tools can be necessary. Likewise, trademarks really are a valuable tool inventors overlook.