One particularly important part of the inventing process is getting ahold of a patent. Patents grant you the rights to exclusively make, use or sell your invention. In other words, patents are what keep your invention protected from being stolen and remade by other sneaky competitors.
The process to obtain a patent for your invention can be confusing if you’re not already working with a professional, and there are tons of myths floating around the Internet about what patents can and cannot do for you. Intellectual property rights can get very in-depth and complex, so while you’re doing your research, watch out for these common myths and stay informed.
1. All Patents are the Same
Like I mentioned earlier, the world of patents can be very convoluted, so of course there is more than just one type of patent. The patent process is not one-size-fits-all. No matter how much easier that would make it on inventors and their patent attorneys, all inventions just can’t be lumped into one category. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), there are three types of patents: utility patents, design patents and plant patents. Each patent is granted based on specific characteristics of what the inventor is trying to protect. Keep in mind that there are regulations in place to prevent “double-patenting,” so it may be a challenge to get both a utility and a design patent, for example.
2. I Have to Immediately File for My Patent
While you definitely have the option to start your patent application as soon as you have something to patent, you also have another option that may work better for your situation. In addition to utility, design and plant patents, there are another two categories of patents: provisional vs. non-provisional patents. Non-provisional patents are the long-term, full coverage patents that people typically think of when they first hear the term “patent.”
While these patents are preferred for continued protection, they can be complicated and expensive to obtain. That’s why many inventors choose to file for a provisional patent while they are still designing, manufacturing and testing their products. Provisional patents provide a measure of protection for 12 months after they have been filed and can be thought of as a first step in a full patent application. Provisional patents are less expensive to file and allow for your invention’s design to change before you file for the non-provisional patent.
3. I Don’t Need a Patent; I Can Just E-Mail Myself My Idea
In the interest of keeping it real: you do need a patent if you want to ensure protection for your invention. Unfortunately, mailing or e-mailing yourself your idea does not give you the protection that a patent or provisional patent would. In fact, this is an old copyright myth that has wormed its way into the patent world. This practice won’t even copyright your idea! You’re much better off meeting with a professional and doing things by the books.
4. My Patent Will be Enforced Worldwide
In an ideal world, this would be true. However, most patents only provide coverage in the country they were filed in. An inventor has to take extra steps to ensure protection worldwide. You can file for an international patent application to keep anyone from the rights to produce, operate or sell your invention idea. If this isn’t an option for you, though, don’t fret. If a foreign good violates a patent in the country they are trying to import into, the patent prevents the goods from being imported.
5. I Have to Navigate Patents by Myself
Thankfully, this is not at all true. There are several reliable resources that you can seek information from regarding patents. If you haven’t checked out the USPTO website, you can browse it for a ton of free information about patents, patent laws, trademarks and more. It’s also strongly encouraged to get in touch with a patent attorney. Patent attorneys can provide guidance through the patent application process and answer any questions you may have regarding your specific invention. At Source Direct, Inc., we have a patent attorney locator right on our website to help you find a patent attorney in your area. Want even more assistance? If you decide to work with Source Direct, Inc. on designing, making, manufacturing or marketing your invention, we can immediately help you get a provisional patent so you’re protected as soon as possible.
As an inventor, you’re not expected to be an expert in patents and intellectual property law! Allow the experts to walk you through it so you can focus on what’s important.
Feeling a little more confident in the patent process now? We hope so! If you feel inspired to move forward with your invention, feel free to give us a call at 888-373-3876 so we can talk about how Source Direct, Inc. can help you!
Libby Jourdan is the social media expert and writer for Source Direct, Inc., an invention company based in Oldsmar, Fl. If you have any additional invention tips, comments or want to get started with an idea, feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you absolutely dread using email, you can comment below!