For many, the dream of having their own invention or idea come to fruition is a goal that comes with plenty of challenges and steps necessary to succeed. For an average inventor navigating this environment, it often comes with plenty of obstacles and processes that provide a long and grueling process to navigate.
Hartman Global IP, a law firm dedicated to protecting and guiding inventors patent their inventions warns that those wanting to begin the process to patent an item or idea should be prepared for a lengthy process and in many cases, initial rejection.
"Sometimes this process is lengthy, sometimes taking two to three years before everything is finalized and even then, there is still a 95% rejection rate for those applying," says Hartman Global IP owner Domenica Hartman." I can't tell you how many times we've had people come in saying 'if my husband or wife spends one more cent on this process, I've had it.' It is long and filled with many steps and processes that have to be done before it ever comes to fruition."
For those wanting to take the step and begin their long journey towards obtaining a patent, the following steps will have to be taken into consideration.
For patents, fees are a plentiful part of the process that will come the inventor's way. Many patent fees are charged by the U.S. government and can differ depending on whether the owner of the patent qualifies as a "micro entity", "small entity" or "large entity". For micro entities, an inventor must not be named as an inventor on more than four previously filed patents and exceed three times the median household income (typically about $150,000 total. For large entities, these are usually defined as a business with more than 500 employees. Fees are also charged accordingly to how complex the invention is.
"The reason patents are obtained is to protect a process, machine or device, but not for things such as business strategies or advertising ideas," says Hartman. "It is a property right guaranteed to the inventor by the US government and is valid for up 20 years."
Before the process begins it is always a wise initial step to conduct a search of earlier patents (referred to as prior art) to see if the process is able to move forward and a patent can be obtained. As stated in a previous article, ideas for a patent could have previously existed in the past and did not garner enough attention to be noticed by the mainstream. Hartman Global is able to conduct electronic searches for covering U.S. patents as well as manual searches.
Once the process begins the application is prepared to be filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, this requires a detailed description of the invention, patent drawings, patent claims and formal documents along with the application. After a typical time period of one to two months, the first draft is typically received and the next step towards filling is ready. Once the application is filed, a "Patent Pending" notice can be applied towards the invention.
After the application is filed, a period of anywhere from six months to three years can develop before the patent is obtained. During this time period, a certified patent examiner will perform a search to see if the idea matches prior inventions often resulting in one or more amendments being made to distinguish the invention from prior ones.
Along with amendments, additional procedures may also be required as additional steps in obtaining a patent. This can occur with the filing of an affidavit, a continuation of the application, or an appeal to the Board of Appeals if the Patent Examiner does not initially accept the patent idea.
Once USPTO has given their notice that the utility patent application can be issued as an official patent, a governmental fee discussed above must be paid as well as additional governmental feels called "maintenance fees" which are due on the 4th, 8th and 12th years respectively after the patent is issued.
When the patent is finally granted, the owner has 20 years has total control to exclude others from making and selling the same patent, making sure that royalties are paid to the rightful party for those that do and offering legal protection for those trying to sell or recreate the patent without permission or royalties being paid.
"We are here to help people reach their dreams of getting their invention, their baby out for the public to use," says Hartman. "it is a long process, a challenging process, but it is a process that we are committed to helping someone with the entire way from the beginning to the end."