5 Tips for Inventors: Meeting with a Patent Lawyer
If you have invented a fabulous product that you know is the next big thing, you are probably wondering how to go about patenting your idea.
There is a lot of paperwork to fill out, and knowing what kind of patent to apply for is important. There are three basic types of patents: plant, design, and utility. If you have invented and asexually reproduced a new variety of vegetation, you would apply for a plant patent. A design patent is granted for an original ornamental design such as that of a coke bottle or a sock monkey. A utility patent is the most diverse kind of patent and is awarded to anyone who invents a useful product or comes up with a new methodology for accomplishing a goal in business or science. Your attorney can help you figure out which kind of patent is right for you.
1. Do Your Homework
Getting a patent can be expensive and time-consuming, so it is worth your while to do a little research before investing all that time and money. You want to make sure that your idea is an original one. Internet searches are one way to investigate if someone already had your idea. If someone has disclosed their idea on a public website, it is no longer eligible for a patent, because it is considered a matter of public knowledge. You may want to visit a historical library to make sure your idea is an original one. You will also want to do a patent search through the patent office, either online or in person.
2. Document the History of Your Invention
You will want to document your product in a bound notebook and write your name and contact information on the inside cover, along with the date you began your project. Find a couple of people that you trust and ask them to sign on each page of your notebook to verify the date. It is a good idea to have witnesses that work in a similar industry so they can have a good understanding of your invention. Be sure to keep carefully organized files on your invention and have a separate file for each category of document.
3. Prepare for Your Meeting with Your Attorney
Before meeting with your attorney, send their office a copy of your patent search and a one-paragraph description of your invention. Bring your notebook and any prototypes you may have to your first meeting.
4. Understand Confidentiality Laws
Remember never to disclose your idea to anyone, except your witnesses. It is better to keep what information you can in your notebook, rather than on your computer, as information on your computer can be compromised.
5. Understand the Difference Between a Patent Attorney and a Patent Agent
A patent agent is an individual who is legally allowed to file patents for clients and assist them with the general patent procedure. He or she has passed the US Patent and Trademark Office’s patent bar exam. However, a patent agent cannot represent you in court and he or she does not have a law degree, so they cannot help you in negotiating contracts. It is a good idea to get a qualified patent attorney in Fort Lauderdale to represent you. Solid planning and the right attorney can help make your great idea a tangible and marketable product.