Submitting a patent application for your latest idea is the final hurdle towards having your invention legally protected. However, this process can be fairly tricky to navigate, and there are three important things you must do before contacting the patent office:
Complete a Worldwide Patent Search
The first step in pitching your idea to the patent office is to complete a worldwide search for similar ideas. Remember that patents are global and not restricted to your current country of residence. Therefore, you have to ensure that your brilliant idea hasn't already been thought up by someone on the other side of the globe.
Additionally, remember that patents for designs that are still currently in the works are entirely valid. If you have a great idea for an invention, but someone has already filed a patent for the same idea, the patent rights are still theirs even if they haven't manufactured their product yet. This is an area that often catches budding inventors out, so be careful to cover all grounds before filing your patent claim.
Fully Develop Your Idea or Invention
Once you've searched all corners of the earth and haven't found an idea that is strikingly similar to your own, it's time to start developing your idea. Before submitting your patent application, you'll have to have a somewhat developed idea that you can present to the patent office. Although you don't have to present the fine details of your plan, you have to give the patent office enough to be able to protect your invention.
On this note, remember that you won't be able to protect the overall concept behind your idea, only the idea itself. For instance, your application will likely get sent back if you try to patent "fruit blender". BUT, you will be able to patent a unique design for blending fruit. It's important to distinguish between the concept of your invention and the invention itself before drafting your application.
You may also find, during your global search for similar ideas, a need to modify your idea so that it doesn't infringe upon another person's patent. It's important to have these modifications formalized and fully developed before moving forward in order to demonstrate to the patent office that you have taken necessary steps to avoid copyright infringement.
Draft Your Patent Application
Although patent applications are typically short and concise, there is a big chance of having your application refused if you don't follow a few simple rules. Specifically, there are three things your patent must achieve in order to be approved by the patent office:
- Clarifies the invention to the reader – It's important to note the difference between clarifying and explaining your idea. Rather than simply informing the reader about your idea in a vague manner, you must be entirely clear about the specifics of your idea and anticipate any questions that the reader may have. Once you know these, draft your application avoiding superfluous adjectives to describe your idea – be concise!
- Puts the idea in proper context – Remember that the patent office likely won't have any working knowledge of your product. Particularly if you have designed some obscure technology for a specific industry, the patent office won't be able to imagine your invention in the intended context. Therefore, ensure that enough information is given regarding the intended use of the idea such that the patent office understand the product in greater detail.
- Has supporting evidence to back up claims – All of the bespoke characteristics of your idea must be laid out in layman's terms for the patent office to interpret. Any industry jargon you use must be fully explained, and you need clear diagrams used to support the claim's made in your application.
Drafting a patent application is fairly straightforward and is something you should practice to ensure you have enough evidence to submit to the patent office. However, getting the patent application perfect is a very tricky task, and you'll likely need some professional legal advice to ensure you don't ruin your chances of being approved. As such, consider contacting a patent lawyer who will be able to offer sound legal advice regarding your application and help you put together the perfect patent for your idea.