Business 101: Patents 101

I just want to share some quick lessons I learned about patents.  If you want to find out whether your idea or product is patentable you will want to ask a law firm to conduct a patentability search.  This is when a law firm will ask you questions about your idea and do a search of prior art (existing patents/inventions) to see if anything similar is out there.  The goal of the search is basically to see if you have an idea or product that is unique to the world or a significant improvement over something that already exists.  After the search they will share the results.  If your idea isn’t unique, better luck to you next time.  If it is unique you will have a chance to review any prior art that could be like yours and verify yourself that you agree with the results that the idea is unique.  To protect an idea or product immediately you will want to file provisional patent.  Provisional patents will protect your intellectual property for up to 1 year.  A provisional patent puts you in patent pending state.  So when you hear someone say they are patent pending that means they have only chose to protect their idea for a year.   Once in patent pending state you have choice to file the regular patent that will last for 20 plus years.  If you do not have the long-term patent filed before the provisional expires someone else can slide thru and steal your idea.  A provisional patent can take a couple of thousand dollars depending on who you know and where you go.  A long-term patent can be anywhere from $5-$15K depending on what it is.  Remember that when it comes to patents not who created the idea or invention first that owns the right, its who files the paperwork first.

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