The race to file a patent had heated up since March of 2013 when the “First-Inventor-To-File” (FITF) system went into effect. Patents are now granted based on – literally as the title suggests – the first inventor to file rather than the first to merely invent. With inventors rushing to the finish line shortly after a stroke of brilliance, the best advice to startups is to file your patent right away to ensure the protection of your ideas.
What are the dangers of procrastinating?
Offering your invention for sale, putting it in public use, describing it in a publication – these are important activities for a startup. In the United States, a patent application must be filed within one year of such disclosures.
What if I am not ready to file?
As a startup, innovation may still be in the brewing stages, and you may not be ready to pour your brilliance into a full-blown patent application. While only a (full) non-provisional application can result in an enforceable patent, provisional application can provide an easy, affordable way to start the process.
What is a provisional patent application?
A provisional patent application is faster (and less expensive) to prepare than a (full) non-provisional application, since all that is required is a description of the invention and a drawing. Once you file the provisional patent application, your invention is “patent pending” and you will have obtained a filing date that can later be inherited by a more robust (full) non-provisional patent application.
You can learn how to write your own provisional patent or (to ensure that your patent’s drafted adequately and filed accurately) you can consult a lawyer. Keep in mind, to secure your patent, you must file your (full) non-provisional patent application within the one year of the provisional patent application.