Provisional Patents – An Additional Advantage

Provisional patents have the advantage of being low cost but they have another additional advantage that make them a plus for inventors.

Requirements per the US Patent Office

The provisional application must be made in the name(s) of all of the inventor(s). It can be filed up to 12 months following the date of first sale, offer for sale, public use, or publication of the invention, whichever occurs first. (These pre-filing disclosures, although protected in the United States, may preclude patenting in foreign countries.) Continue reading

Is a Design Patent Right For You?

Until recently, design patents were the patent you got if it didn’t work out to get a utility patent. But the recent Egyptian Goddess v. Swisa case has strengthened design patents and redefined how design patent infringement has been determined for over the last 25 years. Now inventors and intellectual property professionals are considering design patents in this new light. Design patents are no longer the patent you get if nothing else works out–they now offer valid protection for some products. But for which products? Let’s first take a short look at the history of how design patent infringement has changed. Continue reading

What Do You Do If Someone Already Patented Your Idea?

It hit you like a ton of bricks; the stars aligned and you had your eureka moment: you came up with a great new idea for an invention! You threw together a prototype to see if the idea would work, and it did! Then you hopped on Google Patents and started searching to see if someone has patented your idea. You sorted through countless patents and finally found one that looks a lot like your idea. What can you do?!? Fortunately, there is a whole lot you can do and often you can still pursue your idea and succeed, even when someone else has patented the idea. Continue reading

Doing a Google Patent Search

www.google.com/patents

I’ve found the easiest way to do a preliminary patent search is to do a Google Patent search.  You can put in a simple search term and then work from its database to get a good idea if your product idea has already been patented.  This search won’t necessarily reveal every other patent but it is a good start.  Another good aspect of the Google patent search site is that it lists the patents pending that are published by the patent office but haven’t yet been issued.

To get the most out of a Google search you can’t just put in the name of your idea and then do a Google search.  That will leave out far too many patents where the patent application uses different terms than yours. You need to look instead at all the citations listed in the patents to find out more.

To give you a better idea of how to get the maximum benefit, I’ve listed all the steps and procedures for an inventor who came up with the idea of having an electric plug where a child could not pull the plug out of a socket. Continue reading