Invention Help – 3 Easy Steps to Getting Help With Your Invention
You’ve invented a product and now need help getting your invention off the ground? Here are 3 easy steps to help get you there!
1. Find Out If Your Idea/Invention Is Patentable
Many people try skipping this step only to find out later that their invention isn’t properly protected or even worst that their invention is infringing on a competitor’s patent.
For a fraction of the cost of getting invention prototypes or applying for a patent, an inventor can instead get a professional patent search performed and discover if someone else has already patented the same or similar invention.
Inventors can use patent search reports to decide which parts of their invention are most likely to be granted a patent. Similarly it also can help inventors decide which parts of their invention are the best to take to market.
A Patent Search answers the following questions:
a) Is your idea truly novel, has it already been patented?
b) Is it worth the cost of filing a patent at all, given the scope of patentability?
c) What is your competition doing?
d) Is it worth the effort and expense to fully develop and market your concept?
2. Apply for a Patent
Before you speak with investors, venture capitalist or try to shop your invention around you should at least apply for a patent so that you know your invention is legally protected. There are two options of patent applications:
a) A Provisional Patent Application: which provides immediate protection for your invention while giving you time to file a regular Patent Application. A Provisional Patent allows an inventor to claim "patent pending" status for the invention for 12 months at a fraction of the price of a regular Patent Application. Often five to ten pages, a Provisional Patent Application consists of text and drawings that describe how to make and use your invention. It provides the inventor with a 12 month period to further develop the invention, determine marketability and seek licensing agreements. If you file a regular Patent Application within 12 months of filing the Provisional, you can claim the original Provisional filing date to prove that your invention came before other similar developments.
b) A Non-Provisional Patent Application: which is a regular Patent Application that will protect your invention for 20 years. The US Patent and Trademark Office has very specific requirements for preparing and filing a Non-Provisional Utility Patent Application, which must include a data sheet; a specification; a claim or claims; drawings, when necessary; an oath or declaration; and the prescribed filing, search, and USPTO examination fees. Filing a Non-Provisional Patent allows you to legally claim "patent pending" throughout the duration of the patent process.
3. Get a Prototype of your Invention
Companies are more likely to take your invention seriously if you can show them a working prototype of your invention.
Generally prototypes can fall into two categories:
a) Rapid FDM Prototypes: Rapid Prototypes, are made from 3 dimensional engineered drawings and can be created using FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) technologies. A 3 dimensional plastic printer with the ability to create simple or complex parts in a single process is used to create an inexpensive model of your invention. This process is ideal for conceptual and engineering models, as well as for prototype testing.
Common uses of Rapid Prototypes include:
- optimize invention design, spending less time and money than with a traditional manufacturing process
- cheaply evaluate invention design and functionality
- produce an inexpensive prototype which is strong enough for testing
- cheaply produce a small number (10 - 10,000) for market testing
- use while shopping your invention around to investors or licensees
- continued research and development
b) Engineered Prototypes: Unlike a Rapid Prototype, these are complex engineered prototypes that require temporary molds, additional manufacturing steps and multiple materials to create a working model of the concept. Many times engineered prototypes are fully working and functioning samples of the invention.
Common uses of Engineered Prototypes include:
- optimize and evaluate invention design and functionality
- prove a product's viability
- cost-effective way to decide if you should move forward with full-scale manufacturing
- support the patent process
- demonstrate the invention to potential licensors or investors
- refine material selection, tolerances, and other engineering decisions
If you would like help with any of these three steps you should give the Invention and Patent Professionals at Noro IP a call at 800-605-6993.
September 27, 2011
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Do you know of a unique invention, celebrity patent, or IP news that should be featured in our blog? Send an email to PatentSpecialist@NoroIP.com with your idea.
Disclaimer: No information on this blog is intended as legal advice or to substitute for legal advice and is offered for informational purposes only.
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