Michigan Patent Attorney
Intellectual property, such as patents, can be one of the most valuable assets owned by individuals and companies. If you have conceived a new invention/product, it is important to take the necessary steps to protect the invention prior to disclosing it and selling it. Otherwise, third parties can potentially copy and sell the new invention/product and make a profit without paying any compensation to you or your company.
Our intellectual property law firm specializes in assisting entrepreneurs and small-to-medium sized businesses in protecting their new inventions/products with U.S. patents. Our lawyers are experts at preparing, filing, and prosecuting U.S. patent applications before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) and we have over a 90% patent allowance rate which is one of the highest rates of U.S. law firms.
Recommended Steps to Protect Your New Invention/Product
Our intellectual property law firm recommends taking the following steps to protect your new invention/product.
Step One: Develop a Prototype if Possible
A good first step is to develop a working prototype of your invention/product. By doing so, you will learn what structure or functionality works. Also, the prototype will allow the patent attorney to focus the patent application on the working structure and functionality which results in a stronger patent. If you need assistance from an engineer or a designer to develop the prototype, it is a good idea to have them sign a Nondisclosure Agreement. After initial conversions, if you want the engineer or designer to further develop the product, it is typically a good idea to have a Development Agreement in which they agree to assign the ownership of any inventions that they develop to you or your company.
Step Two: Perform a Patent Novelty Search
The patent novelty search will identify the closest patents to the invention/product to determine whether the invention/product is patentable. For it to be patentable, it must have new structure or functionality that is not shown or taught in the closest patents. It is usually a good idea for an inventor to do a preliminary patent search to determine the three closest patents that they can find. Useful websites for performing a patent search are www.uspto.gov and www.freepatentsonline.com. Thereafter, if the inventor wants a more thorough patent search, they can hire a patent attorney to do so. A patent attorney can review the closest patents and then let you know whether your invention/product is patentable.
Step Three: Complete an Invention Disclosure Form
An Invention Disclosure Form is a form that a patent attorney will send to you to obtain additional information on the invention. The patent can utilize the information in the form to perform a patent novelty search if needed. Also, the patent attorney can also use the information in the form to provide an accurate quote to you, and to prepare a patent application.
Step Four: Have a Patent Attorney Prepare, File, and Prosecute a U.S. Patent Application Before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
Patent attorneys are experts at preparing, filing, and prosecuting patent applications before the USPTO, so it is usually a good idea to hire a patent attorney for this step due to the complexity of the patent process. In particular, the patent attorney will draft a detailed specification that describes the invention, prepare drawings that illustrate the invention, and prepare claims (which are detailed paragraphs) which define the scope of the invention. After filing the patent application, and after a patent examiner has examined the application and issued an Office Action, the patent attorney will respond to the Office Action to address any concerns raised by the patent examiner and to try to convince the examiner to allow the patent application to issue into a U.S. patent. The prosecution phase of the patent process can be quite complicated, and it is almost always a good idea to have a patent attorney handle the prosecution of the patent application.
What are the two common types of patents?
Two common types of patents are utility patents and design patents. To obtain a patent, a patent application must be properly filed with the USPTO and receive the office’s grant of a patent. The patent attorney can review your invention and then provide guidance to you on which type of patent application will work best for you.
A utility patent protects the functional and structural aspects of an invention. A utility patent application can be either a Non-Provisional patent application or a Provisional patent application. A Non-Provisional patent application is used for an invention that has a solid design that is not likely to change in the next 12-months. A Provisional patent application is used for an early-stage invention that is likely to change in the next 12-months and has a 12-month lifespan. Before the Provisional patent application expires at the 12-month deadline, a Non-Provisional patent application can be filed which claims priority to the Provisional patent application and it can include any new design modifications
A design patent protects the ornamental exterior look of a product and is often useful to protect inventions with relatively simple structures. The drawings in the design patent application define the scope of protection so it is important to have solid drawings of the invention.
What does a patent attorney do?
A patent attorney can handle the relatively complicated patent process from start to finish. Initially, the patent attorney can determine whether your invention is patentable based on a patent search, and then provide guidance on the best type of patent application to file to protect your invention/product. Thereafter, the patent attorney can prepare, file, and prosecute the patent application before the USPTO to obtain a U.S. patent.
How Our Firm Can Help You
We are experts at obtaining patents and we have one of the highest patent allowance rates of U.S. law firms. If you need assistance, we can assist you through the entire patent process. For more information, call Buckert Law Firm for a free consultation.