We are putting together a series of brief “patenting basics” articles that cover the key questions most inventors face when deciding whether to proceed with patenting their invention ideas.
The questions we will be considering are:
These questions are discussed in further detail below and we will be expanding on each of these points in future posts in the coming weeks and months ahead. Enjoy !
A successful Australian entrepreneur once told me that your ideas are the most important asset you will ever have and these ideas should be well guarded.
The only way to truly protect an invention idea, assuming it is patentable, is by seeking patent or design protection. There are, of course, some pro’s and con’s of patent system which are not discussed here such as cost of patenting and enforcement strategies. However, the fact remains, with a few exceptions, the only way to protect an invention is with a patent or design.
Accordingly, if you would like to make sure no one else copies your invention idea, you’ll need a patent – A patent is a legal document that gives you exclusive rights to be the only one to sell, use and manufacture, your invention for a period of time.
Patenting invention ideas is an important step in the overall commercialisation of your invention as a patent can provide import market advantage by deterring competitors for entering the market. Patenting invention ideas is also critical to secure ownership of your invention idea which enables you to licence or sell your invention idea.
In some cases, where the product embodying the invention is of low value, is expected to only sell in low product volumes or have a short time in the market – then the cost of patenting may possibly outweigh the expected revenue generated from the product. In these situations, you will need to carefully consider if you will seek patent protection because if you begin selling your product you may no longer be able to validly seek patent protection.
We typically work through a patenting cost benefit analysis with all of our clients to ensure that the patent strategy, which may include not filing patents, matches well with the expected commercial outcome.
From a legal point of view you should file any patents as soon as possible. The early filing of patents provides you with an early priority date and minimises the risk of being beaten to the punch. However, how early is too early? In some cases, the invention is still in early development or is still in the “idea” phase. In these situations, it may be beneficial to further refine the invention or conduct some basic (and confidential) testing before seeking patent protection.
Basically, if you are at the stage of having some concept drawings and have a reasonable idea of how to best put the invention into practice – then you should be thinking about patenting. At this stage, make sure you obtain a patent, usually a provisional patent, before you discuss, demonstrate or sell your invention to anyone, as disclosing your invention might mean you are unable to obtain a patent.
Patents are granted or issued to inventions which are novel, include an inventive step and are useful. The invention also needs to be considered patentable subject matter, for example, computer software and some biotechnological inventions are not considered patentable subject matter in some countries.
The most important criteria is that your invention, as claimed in the patent, is at least novel over the the prior art. The prior art may be any document, patent, or public use from anywhere in the world. Accordingly, an important step prior to seeking patent protection is to conduct at least some basic patent searching. We find that Google patents is a good starting point and relatively easy to use.
Caska IP offers First-Cut preliminary patent searches in which we seek determine if your invention is at least novel. We have had a very high success rate with these searches and recommend all our clients to have a First-Cut search prior to seeking patent protection.
A Patent is a complex legal document, therefore it’s best you seek the assistance of a qualified patent attorney to ensure the patent is drawn up correctly. Caska IP are Patent Attorneys qualified to draw up a patents and specialise in engineering and scientific based inventions. We offer all new clients a complimentary initial consultation and are happy to discuss each of the above questions with you in further detail.
We also assist you in working out whether your invention is likely to be eligible to have a patent and what type of patent you will require, for example, a provisional patent, a standard patent, a innovation patent and/or an international PCT patent.