Patent is the only way an inventor can gain rights in his invention to legally
exclude others from making, using or selling it. For a patent to be granted,
an inventor must have devised a new, useful and nonobvious process, machine,
articles of manufacture or composition of matter, or any new, useful and
nonobvious improvements thereon. Utility Patents are
powerful marketing tools that are almost essential to
the profitable development and sale of a new invention.
The first step you should take in obtaining
patent protection is to completely and accurately disclose your invention
to a patent attorney. The best form of disclosure is, in the case of mechanical
inventions, to prepare a rough sketch with labeled parts accompanied by a
written description of the invention. In the case of electrical inventions, you
should provide the attorney with detailed sketches and circuit diagrams. If you
have a chemical invention, you should provide a detailed written description
of the methods of making and using the invention as well as a chemical structure
and the ratios and/or concentrations of any starting materials and end products.
The drawings and written description should be prepared by you prior to meeting
with the patent attorney.
After the invention is disclosed to the attorney,
and if the invention appears to fall within one of the general classes of
patentable subject matter, the attorney will recommend a limited novelty or patentability
search. We ordinarily recommend that a preliminary patentability search be
conducted for two reasons: First, the results of such a search give us an idea
what the chances are of patenting your invention and, thus, help you determine
whether the costs of preparing and filing a patent application would be justified.
Second, the search results provide information that will help us in drafting
your application to explain your invention, how it differs from the prior art,
and hopefully, how it overcomes the failings of the prior art.
The preliminary patentability search is conducted
in the related classes and subclasses of the more than five million United
States patents and millions of foreign patents on file in the United States Patent
Office in Washington, D.C. The search is limited to patent documentation in the
United States Patent Office. Even within this database, the searcher might miss
a pertinent document which has a vague abstract, is poorly translated or is misclassified.
The cost of a patentability search varies
somewhat with the complexity of the invention. However, the usual range for
a preliminary search is $1,650 to $2,500. It is customary to ask for an advance
retainer prior to carrying out the patentability search. This $1,650 to $2,500
search and report is a limited preliminary investigation, which is estimated
to be about 70%-80% reliable. The cost of a thorough search is high, and hence
thorough searches are not normally undertaken when the exposure is only in the
order of magnitude of patent application costs.
In most cases, the patentability search takes
about three to four weeks to complete, and after the search has been completed
a formal written report will be forwarded to the client. The written report
will set forth a brief description of some or all of the patents uncovered
in the search. Copies of the patents uncovered in the search will also be enclosed
with the report.
After you receive the results of the search,
you and your attorney must decide whether you want to file an application.
No additional work can begin until instructions are received from you concerning
the filing of an application.