Legal Guide

What to Know before Applying for a Patent

A patent can protect an invention and allows inventors to take the necessary legal action against anyone who sells, uses or imports the invention without permission. If you have just invented a new device or something that has never existed and can be made or used, you can be granted a patent. However, the process is not easy. It can even be expensive. It pays to know everything you need to know about applying for patent.

What you can and cannot patent

Your invention should be something new, not just a modification to an object or device. Some types of invention cannot be patented, including artistic works, business or game strategy, a way of thinking, medical treatment, medical diagnosis, discovery of mathematical methods or scientific theory, mobile apps, computer programs, information presentation and biological processes.

What to expect

Since it is difficult to get a patent, check if it is the right move for your business to apply for it and if you have the time and resources to spend on the process. Expect it to be complicated, long and expensive. You might need professional help, and need to wait for up to 5 years before a patent is granted. There are ways to know if your invention is new; check for similar inventions by searching published patents and trade publications. In case you get a patent, you also need to renew it every year and pay the renewal expenses.

Getting professional help

To help you get a patent, or at least decide correctly if it is right for your business, you can seek professional help. You can get free advice from a patent attorney, as many professional advisors offer free basic advice. You may also attend an IP or intellectual property clinic. A patent attorney can also help you once you decide to apply for a patent. He or she will help prepare the application correctly since additional information cannot be added later. Finding help also gives a better chance of being granted a patent and makes the patent commercially valuable.

Is it worth patenting an invention?

A product or invention is only worth patenting if it is commercially viable. You should also be prepared to discover or prove any infringement to enforce your rights. This could risk the uncertainty and cost of litigation. There are other ways to protect a new product, but obtaining a patent offers the strongest protection. Once it is granted, no one else can manufacture, import, sell or use your patented product without your permission.

Obtaining a patent offers many benefits, from prevention of theft of the invention, to higher profit, reduced competition, and many others. It could be worth the expense and the tedious application process. You can find ways to make it more convenient, affordable and favourable for your business. These include working with the best patent attorney or using tools such as special software from that can simplify the process.

Image via Stuart Miles

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