Monday, May 23, 2011
Due to the many requests I have received for information on getting a patent for a new product innovation, I would like to address some of your more frequently asked questions on patenting a new product, making a new product, and selling a new product or patent.
In order to get a patent for your new product, the two most important things you should do are keep silent about it and seek the advice of a good patent lawyer. You should tell absolutely nobody about your new idea except for a patent lawyer. Patent lawyers are accustomed to writing patents and they know how to do so in order to offer you the best protection for your new idea. They are also very proficient at searching patent databases to make sure that your idea is indeed patentable. Since the underlying rationale of patenting your product is protection, the better your patent application is written, the better the protection it offers once it is accepted. For your first meeting with a patent lawyer, you should be well prepared – you should be able to describe your new idea fluently. It helps to have something in writing and as many illustrations as possible that describe the new product. It helps even more to have a working prototype. When creating a prototype, many issues with the product may arise that would need to be dealt with before finalizing the patent. In other words, you wouldn't want your patent to describe a product that is different to the one you created. A working prototype is also very useful when selling the product or patent. However, all this has an unfortunately hefty price tag. You can save money by performing extensive online searches yourself, both at the United States Patent and Trading Office (USPTO) databases and using the leading search engines. For example, if you find that your product idea already exists, you won’t be able to patent it and it’s better that you find this out for yourself rather than pay a patent lawyer to do it for you.
Once you have submitted your patent application to the USPTO, your patent’s status is patent pending. Assuming the patent application is accepted, the registration date of the patent, or when your patent protection begins, is from the patent application submission date. During this time, you can share your new idea with other people without worrying about them copying it. If all you have are diagrams, this would be a good time to approach an engineer and begin manufacturing a prototype. If you are interested in creating a working prototype before submitting the patent application and you are unable to do it alone, make sure you have a good, signed, Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before sharing your idea with the manufacturer. An NDA is basically a contract between you and someone else that states that the information you share with them is confidential and if they share that information with a third party they will be held liable.
At last, the time has come to try and make some money from your patent. If you want mass produce the product yourself, by this stage you would probably be in need of cash and this would be a good time to approach potential investors. If an investor believes in your idea and chooses to give you money, this will be in return for a percentage of the product’s ownership. The more advanced the product is in its development, the less ownership can be claimed by the investor. You would then need to procure the services of a manufacturer that is willing and able to manufacture your product at a reasonable rate. Next, you could approach retailers that sell similar products and see if they are interested to sell your product. If they are, they would be ordering quantities of the product from you, which you would then order from the manufacturer and deliver to them. In this case, you would be a wholesaler (not a retailer). You could also open a shop front or an Internet site to distribute your product (in which case you would be a retailer as well). Another way to go about making money from your patented product is by selling the patent rights to a company that already manufactures something similar. The more proven demand there is for your product, the more money your patent will be worth.
Sometimes pure luck determines the success of your new product but more often than not it is your determination. If you have a new idea that you believe in and pursue, you’re on the right track. The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the process and believe in your product innovation.