How to file a patent in a few easy steps

Inventions have the power to change the world. 

A simple example would be the patent named “Navigation system using satellites and passive ranging techniques,” or the GPS. 

Can you imagine traveling these days without the help of a GPS system on your smart phones? 

When an invention is protected and the inventor stands to gain from it, that acts as an inspiration for every inventor out there to do more. That’s why protecting your invention is important. 

Getting your invention patented is the best way to protect your invention from others. If you have heard about how difficult it is to file a patent, then you probably are right. There are a lot of things that need to fall in place for you to get your invention patented. Thankfully, the entire process can be broken down, and thus becomes less complex than it actually is. 

 

Let us look at how you can file a patent in a few easy steps:

 

#1 Have a deep understanding of your invention:

The first step towards getting your patent is to ensure that you know your product inside out. What part of the invention makes it unique and useful? Once you are clearly aware of what makes your invention worthy of getting a patent, the next step is to consider the scope. You need to find out if there are other ways to invent your product. Write down all the other ways of making your invention work, even if they are not the most ideal way to do it. 

You need to find if your invention has a broader application. If that’s the case, then you need to do more modifications to narrow it down. Doing all of this will ensure that you will be able to protect and will also benefit from being aware of the full scope of the invention. Your patent application will be tighter and more likely to be approved by the patent office.

 

#2 Keep a record of how you came up with the idea:

Make sure to keep a record of how you arrived at the idea and the step-by-step process that you took to come to this stage. A written record like this can actually help your case if you face any issues and it even helps bolster the creative process. Write down everything, from the changes you made, corrections, mistakes, and even the slightest line of action. 

Keep records of who has been given access to your idea. Ensure that all of these people have signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) which specifically states that the rights to your idea and their work on your idea are all yours. Hire a patent firm and make sure that you get the NDA drafted by their lawyer so that there are no loopholes which might eventually come to bite you. 

 

#3 Does your invention qualify for patent protection?

Ideas cannot be patented. Everyone knows that. So if you want to protect your invention, you need to show the patent office how exactly it works. For an invention to be patentable, it must be new, non-obvious, and useful. 

New means that the invention cannot be known, used, described or patented before the filing date of your patent application. 

Non-obvious means that the invention should be significantly different from similar inventions which are already known. 

Useful means that the invention is useful, as in, a chemical, mechanical or electronic invention. 

 

#4 Patent Search:

Doing a patent search will help you figure out if your invention is new. Searching for prior patents and going through previously published patent  applications will assist you in understanding if the patent is patentable. While a patent search isn’t really a must, it will help you determine the proper scope for the patent application. 

If you plan to do patent search by yourself, we will advise you against it as it requires technical expertise and complex tools that only an IP firm will have. Do remember that the patent office will conduct its own search after you file your patent application. 

 

#5 How do you want to protect your invention? 

File a provisional patent application at first. This offers you protection in case someone says that they had the idea before you did. You can even take a year after this to file your patent application. During this period, you can add claims to strengthen the prototype that you have built, but you cannot add anything new. 

Let’s say you have added a piece of technology or something that adds more firepower to your invention, then you need to file a new patent application to add them. 

There are three main types of patents: Utility, Design and Plant patents. You have to figure out the right patent type for your idea. 

Utility patent- It is an exclusive right that is granted to an invention which doesn’t allow anyone else to profit from the invention without the inventor’s permission. 

Design patent- This type of patent is usually granted if the product has a unique configuration, unique surface ornamentation, or both. 

Plant patent- This patent protects a new and unique plant’s key attributes from being copied, sold or used by others. 

 

#6 Write your patent application:

You need to prepare a specification that also includes an abstract, summary, background, detailed description, conclusion, the scope and so on. Patent applications are a complex affair if you are doing it by yourself. They have several parts, and each of these can be rejected for many reasons. Ensure that you double and triple check what you have added in your patent application before sending it. A mistake might end up costing you a lot of money, more importantly, a lot of time too. Drafting the right patent application requires a lot of practice and technical know-how. It is strongly recommended to hire an IP firm to take care of your patent application. 

 

#7 Wait for the patent examiner’s response:

For your patent application to be processed, it takes at least one to three years. Make sure you get your application right the first time itself as you do not want to find that your application has been rejected owing to mistakes that could have been avoided. One patent examiner will be assigned to your invention and if you ever receive any communication from them, ensure that you respond to it immediately. 

If you have an attorney, the patent office will reach out directly to them. You can also get things expedited by arranging an interview with the patent examiner. It will help clarify the concerns they have about your invention, if any. 

During this period of time when you are waiting for a response from the patent office, make sure you are working on the business side of things. Since your patent is pending and the invention is protected, you can still talk business to interested parties. 

 

#8 “Notice of Allowance”:

The patent office will issue a “Notice of Allowance” if you are going to receive the patent. After you pay the required Issue Fee, you will receive your patent approximately after one to three months.  Once your patent is granted, your invention or design will be protected anywhere from 14 to 20 years, depending on the patent that has been granted. 

After you receive the patent, make sure you keep the patent alive by paying the maintenance fees. 

 

Conclusion:

Above are the steps using which you can file the patent easily. Unless you are 100% sure that you can handle the patent application process because you have dealt with it earlier, do not do it by yourself. If you still plan to do it by yourself, make sure you scrutinize each and every point that you add with excruciating detail and thoroughness. There cannot be any lapse because that would mean that the patent office will get back with a rejection. It can be a terrible cycle if you do not get the application right in the beginning itself. 

Get in touch with Researchwire’s patent experts who will help you with filing your patent application if you have an invention that you think deserves formal protection. 

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HOW TO SPEED UP THE PATENT PROCESS

32 months.

That’s the average time taken to obtain a patent from a patent office. 

In this cut-throat world of business, that’s a lot of time. There are a number of factors that affect this time duration. From patentability searching to application drafting, filing, and so on, all of these take up time. The patent process can be an excruciating wait if getting your patent ready will mean immediate business results for you. 

Patent offices are looking over thousands of patent applications. Ensuring that each one of them meets all the formal requirements takes a lot of time.  There are certain fields where getting a patent in an accelerated manner becomes pivotal to protect their R&D efforts. 

A reason why patent applications are not quickly approved is because the examiners want to ensure that they get it right. Any lapse from their part can result in a lot of damages to the business that has filed the patent application. 

 

Why should you speed up the patent process?

When you speed up the patent process, it can immensely benefit your business. Here are some of them:

  • Competitive advantage: Having a patent issued in your name offers you a great amount of protection when compared with just saying that your patent is pending.
  • Licensing: It can be an additional revenue and a patent awarded to your name will give you immense leverage during discussions on royalty and licensing.
  • Enforcement: There is no way to enforce your patent rights against infringers unless you have the patent issued in your name.
  • Raising money: When you have a solid patent portfolio to show to your prospective investors, they will be able to trust in your business more. It will help with raising funds for your venture. 

 

Here are a few steps that you can take to speed up the patent process:

#1 Write a clear patent application:

The best way to reduce the chances of any delay in your patent approval process is to be excruciatingly thorough when you draft the application. Do remember that many applications are being handled apart from yours and you need to reduce as much friction as possible for them. 

Before you send the patent application, make sure that you do prior art search. The objective of prior art search is to ensure that your invention is new and non-obvious. By doing prior art search, you will be able to identify the closest prior arts, thus helping you define the scope of protection in your claims. It can even reduce your prosecution time as it will require lesser office actions and claim amendments.

When you write the patent application, describe the invention, how it works and what makes it a new invention and so on, in detail. If there is something that makes the invention unique, write about it in detail as well. It is important that you have a clear understanding of what makes your product ‘patent’ worthy. 

If you end up receiving a notice asking for more clarification, then ensure that you respond to them immediately without a delay. 

 

#2 Petition to Make Special:

It is possible to request that your application be given special privileges so that it can be expedited. You need to qualify to make your petition special. Here are the categories, the applicant should qualify for at least one of these:

Age: If any of the inventors is 65 or older, you can ask your attorney to get this petition filed.

Illness: If one of the inventor’s health is “such that he or she might not be available to assist in the prosecution of the application if it were to run its normal course,” then you can request for the patent approval process to be expedited. 

Invention type: If you want to make the petition special regardless of the age or illness of the inventor, here is the criteria. The patent application that you file should be for an invention that does the following:

  1. Helps fight terrorism
  2. Increases the quality of the environment.
  3. Helps in the conservation of energy resources

 

#3 Be well prepared:

Once your patent application has been submitted, it may take years before you even get a sly nod from the patent office. You need to keep this in mind when you are about to file the patent application so that you have a strategy in mind to tackle any unforeseen delay. Make sure you are aware of all the examples, technical terms, and how you intend to negotiate your rights with the patent office. 

There are six months for you to respond to the patent office before you are supposed to start paying fees. Have your team ready to respond to the questions as soon as there is one. Every single day’s delay will also rack up your fees. It is a lose-lose situation if you are not well prepared. 

 

#4 Communicate with the patent officer:

When it comes to patent applications, it makes sense to communicate directly with the patent officer. Instead of sending emails back and forth, a face-to-face conversation will clear up things faster than you could imagine. Or even a video call would suffice. Instant communications will also help you avoid any misunderstandings. 

Even your examiner wants to get done with your patent application because it is his/her job. It is in the interests of both the parties to pick up the phone and have a conversation. When you talk to the patent examiner, hear their side to understand their view of the invention. More often than not, patents are technical, but the examiners need not necessarily be able to understand some of it. Having a one-to-one conversation can help clear the issues that they are facing and it will be easy for you to explain the invention without any jargon. 

 

#5 Original claims should be reasonable and few:

When you file broad patent claims, it is good for your business, but patent examiners prefer if you have claims that are narrow. There are high chances that a broad patent claim will cover more than what was invented, and that is a turn off for patent examiners. Keep in mind that you should make your invention sound novel and the non-obvious features of your technology should be clearly spelt out. This will help immensely with the fast tracking of your application. 

There are time constraints under which patent examiners work since there are a lot of patents that they need to pore through. When your claims are narrow, they are more likely to be cleared by the patent office. 

Here’s a tip- File narrow claims first so that you can cover the core elements. It will help in getting the patent fast tracked. After this, you can file for continuations so that you can cover every future application of your technology. 

 

#6 Use special programs to fast-track your application:

There are other ways to speed up patent prosecution as well:

  1. Prioritised Patent Examination Program
  2. Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH)

The Prioritised Patent Examination Program gives a utility or a plant patent application priority which allows a final deposition within twelve months. It offers special status and has fewer requirements, and it also doesn’t ask for a pre-examination search. 

PPH fast tracks the examination of the patent applications in participating countries with claims that have already been allowed by a foreign patent office in a corresponding patent application. When you receive the final ruling from the first patent office where you have filed your patent application, you can ask for a fast-track examination of your claims in the corresponding patent application pending in the other office. 

 

#7 Hire an IP firm: 

More often than not, it is best to get the help of experts instead of trying to do it yourself. Get the much-desired clarity by talking to an experienced Intellectual Property firm who will be able to evaluate your unique predicament and you offer the right solution. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to speeding up the patent process which makes it difficult for those who are not privy to the workings of patent offices to do the right thing by themselves. 

 

Conclusion:

You have to remember that the patent office and examiners are there to help you. If you follow the seven strategies that we have listed above, you will be able to speed up your patent application. Filing a patent application and getting it approved in a time that you want requires a lot of things to fall in place. Concentrate on things that are in your control and do it in the right way. 

ResearchWire is a leading intellectual property consulting company that takes care of all of its client’s IP needs. Our IP experts have immense domain and industry experience, that’s how we have been able to add value to each of our clients. If you are looking to speed up your patent process, we will be more than happy to help you with it and guide you in the right direction. Get in Touch

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IP Best Practices in the time of Covid-19

IP Best Practices in the time of Covid-19

 2.8 million. 

That’s the number of patent applications that were filed at the IP5 offices (IP5 is the name given to a forum of the five largest IP offices in the world) in 2020. Also, 1.3 million patents were granted by the IP5 offices in the same year. The year 2020 has been unprecedented because of a strain of virus called Covid-19 that has wreaked havoc across the world. 

The world of IP has faced major setbacks during these turbulent times. Covid-19 has affected almost every industry that you can possibly think of, and businesses need to have a trick or two up its sleeve to make things right, or at least get back to normal. Even having to operate majorly in an online-only tech-based environment has put pressure in the existing systems, and on the people running it. It has been more than a year since the term Coronavirus has become a mainstay in our lives, but the repercussions from it are far from over. Also, the virus is still there. 

 

Below are some of the best IP practices that businesses can follow during Covid:

 

#1 Review your IP inventory:

Make a note of all your patent, trademark, copyright registrations, pending applications, and any renewals and deadlines. Write down all the confidential information that gives your company a competitive advantage. 

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Write in detail about the confidential information in a separate file
  2. Name the stakeholders who have access to it and how they can access it.
  3. List out the measures that you have taken to keep the information confidential.
  4. Ensure that you are in a position to meet any renewals or deadlines
  5. Do check for any royalty agreements and see if the payments are being made on time. 

Once you do all the above, you will know where and how your assets are parked. It will allow you to take immediate actions if necessary. 

 

#2 Be up to date with the happenings in the world:

The pandemic has affected the day-to-day operations of patent offices across the world. While some of them are in a complete state of lockdown, others have adopted a hybrid structure with respect to filings, physical hearings, procedural compliances, and so on. 

Businesses that are looking to file their trademark or patent application internationally should consult with their IP firm to get apprised of the various rules that are being followed this time. World Trademark Review that constantly updates the measures taken by IP offices during this time. 

 

#3 Evaluate your product strategy:

There is no doubt that the pandemic would have caused a seismic change in how consumers behave. Everything from their buying process to even reviewing and searching patterns will change. Find out the changes in user behavior with the help of user surveys, focus group discussions, face-to-face interviews, 3rd party agencies, and so on. 

Analyze the results to find out which are the products in demand. Build these products with the end consumer in mind. Make sure that the products are created with innovation and diligence at its core so that even the consumers are able to emotionally connect with it. 

 

#4 Leverage international filing protocols:

Agreements such as the Madrid Protocol and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) have made it possible to streamline IP filing and search procedures, thanks to making the information available in a centralized database. Thanks to the Patent Cooperation Treaty, major expenses can be deferred for international filings, not to mention the time that is saved in going after this. 

 

#5 Keep strategically investing in IP:

The new normal doesn’t mean that one should go entirely on the defensive and not engage in innovation at all. In fact, innovation is at the core of adapting to the new normal. Businesses should make use of technologies like automation, machine learning, internet of things, etc. to reduce the Go-To-Market time and monetize the product. It is also wise to assess your existing protocols to look for IP that has untapped potential. 

 

Despite the challenges that all of us are witnessing at this moment, one can safely assume that there will always be opportunities. If you don’t look out for them actively, it will not be possible to seize them. The opportunities will not only be limited to finding new areas to innovate, it could also be about acquiring IP from a competing firm that is looking to pivot or monetize their portfolios or finding a means to improve the strength of your present portfolio. If you keep looking hard enough, you will eventually stumble upon something worth the pursuit. 

 

#6 Manage your legal spending wisely:

Having good counsel or an IP firm to help you out immensely, especially during these troubled times, is a wise strategy to indulge in. You can let go of assets that are not important to the company anymore. 

By choosing to let go of IP assets that are no longer valuable, you will enjoy the following:

  1. Won’t have to spend time in extending the validity of the patent.
  2. Avoid paying maintenance costs.
  3. Avoid paying fines for forgetting to comply with regulations.

Do not hesitate to hire an IP firm assuming that it would increase your costs, they will be able to offer you the best advice that will help you capitalize on your existing IP while minimizing your risk. The IP firm might even find ways to increase your revenue through the IP assets you have. 

 

#7 File single-class trademark applications:

Businesses should make it a point to register their brands or marks which are not too descriptive in nature around the world, especially in areas where you plan to expand. You can file single class applications as it will reduce the filing and registration maintenance fees. When there are multiple classes in your application, the higher is the risk of an opposition. On top of that, single class applications are easier and faster to register, and less expensive. 

 

#8 Protect your copyright/design:

The reason why we would like to specifically insist on protecting your copyright and design is because most businesses view it as an extra expenditure. The truth is that these forms of IP can be used to protect innovation. Make sure that the agreements and compliances are in order and updated. 

 

#9 Be investor ready:

Even if you are not expecting a windfall in terms of investors knocking on your doors, you need to be prepared for such a situation. Businesses should proactively take steps to protect and safeguard their IP. It offers an assurance to the prospective investor that you have lucrative IP assets.

 

Wrapping it up:

During these uncertain times, businesses should strategically look at all their options. There is no room for any uncertainty or not having a plan in place. They should protect their IP at all costs by filing and enforcing their IP rights, plan effectively, use the right legal tools, hire an experienced IP firm, and so on. 

The immediate future will bring us ample opportunities. Businesses which have a deep understanding of its IP assets and follow the best practices for protecting and managing its assets will be able to rise to the challenges posed by this pandemic and come out a winner. 

When you have a strong IP firm providing you sound advice, you will be in a good position to tackle this Black Swan called Covid-19. By taking their advice, you can effectively balance your IP portfolio and wade through this uncertainty with little to zero troubles to your brand or IP. 

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How to valuate patents

How to valuate patents

To thrive in the market, you need to aggressively innovate. Otherwise, you will not even be able to survive, forget about thriving. Innovation is what made Honeywell go from a retailer of heat regulatory systems to developing smart technology for climate regulation and home security systems. Lack of innovation is what forced the likes of Compaq, one of the largest PC sellers in the world during the 90s and 80s to shut shop in 2013.

Google bought Motorola Mobility and its 17,000 patents for $12.5 billion to protect its Android mobile OS from competitors. Thanks to its 1,100 digital photography-related patents, Kodak was able to sell those patents for a dozen licensees for $525 million, although it was expected to fetch much more than that.

The gene-splicing patent of two Stanford professors that was world-altering enough to launch the biotech industry, generated $255 millions. Within 24 years of the patent, more than 2,000 biotechnology companies had been launched.

Did you notice the difference in the monetary value of the patents? Everyone knows that all patents are not equal, some are more valuable than others. There are different factors which contribute to the monetary value of patents.

Your intelligence assets are usually in the form of patents. In this dog-eat-dog world of litigation and patent trolls, you need to secure your intellectual assets. Patents provide protection for businesses from their ideas being stolen by their competitors. Since it is an intangible asset, assigning a dollar value to it can be difficult. We can use a variety of methodologies to see if a patent would be a cash cow or not.

What are the instances when you need to assess the value of a patent?

Only when you know the value of your patents would you be able to make use of it appropriately. Knowing the valuation of patents becomes important when there are business transactions/situations such as the ones below:

When there are negotiations while selling or licensing intellectual property rights as it is essential to reach an agreement in good faith.
Patents can also be used as security for bank loans, it is imperative that you show them that the IP asset is of a particular value.
Organizations are legally bound to report their assets, even of those that are intangible.
For your internal team when they want to define strategies for patent protection.
When there is a patent conflict or dispute, in situations like this, knowing the correct value of the IP will enable you to claim fair damages.
While trying to evaluate the value of the company for an M&A, JV or when filing bankruptcy.

How to find the value of patents:

Businesses use different methods to find the value of patents, but most of them can be classified into two types: 1. Quantitative approach and 2. Qualitative approach.

The quantitative approach uses measurable data to calculate the value of patents while the qualitative approach relies on the prospective uses for a company which owns the patent.

Quantitative valuation includes metrics like the cost in obtaining the IP, cost of similar market transactions in the industry, cost of creating a similar technology, and so on. Qualitative valuation includes assessing the IP through a non-monetary lens, such as its technological impact, strategic impact, brand loyalty, and other intangible metrics that will help you come up with a credible value for the patent.

Quantitative approach to valuate patents:

There are four methods which are widely used to find patent values in the quantitative approach. We will talk about each one of them in detail, below:

Cost-based method:

The cost-based method works on the assumption that the costs incurred while developing the IP is directly related to how much it is worth.

Here, the replacement cost of the patent or the amount equivalent to replace the protection right on the invention is considered to be the cost of the patent.

In other words, how much would be paid to replace the patent is considered to be the replacement cost. Or how much would be spent in developing a similar patent is assumed to be the right value.

When we calculate the expenditure, we base it on the current prices. Some of the other cost sources that are included in the cost-based method are: material costs, labour costs, overheads, opportunity costs, profits that are lost when you bring it to the market at a later date, etc.

Income-based method:

In this method, the value of the patent is calculated based on the income that it generates for the patent owner. Even the cost savings that owning the patent will provide is considered when using this approach. When a business or an inventor is developing a product, it is with the hope that it will help increase their profits or at least save them a tonne of money.

Market-based method:

In this method, you need to keep an eye on the market transactions and see if there are any assets which are similar to yours. The comparison between your asset and a similar asset is made with regards to its utility, perception, technical superiority, and so on.

How can you find such data?

It will be available in the annual reports of companies.
Databases where royalty rates are available
Industry-specific publications
Court decisions where damages were discussed

The above sources can give you a fair idea of the rates. Based on the numbers that you get from these sources as well as based on the present market situation, you can arrive at a value that is reasonable to all the parties involved.

Option-based method:

It uses the options-pricing theory to determine the value of the IP. This method considers the options and opportunities related to the investment. When using the options pricing model, patents are valued using financial options. The key point in using a financial model to find the value of a patent is that even stock options provide exclusive rights to the owner while excluding others from using it (that’s how patents work too).

Qualitative approach:

In the qualitative approach that is used to find out the value of patents, there is no reliance on pure financial data. There are a multitude of factors that are used to determine the value of the patents in a qualitative approach. It could be assessing the various aspects that affect the value of the patent. Here are three methods that are widely used:

Value indicator-approach:

It uses rating methods like IP Quotient where the strength of the portfolio and the surrounding variables are assessed. Using this analysis, a qualitative rating is attributed to the patent. This data can be used to draw internal comparisons in assessing the value of the patent, but it cannot give you a decisive number.

Competitive advantage:

In this method, the competitive advantage that the business will get by owing the IP asset is taken into consideration. If it is just bragging rights, then it wouldn’t make any difference to your bottomline. Below are a few questions that you can ask:

Does it cause a significant shift in how your customers perceive you?

Will it increase sales?

Does the IP asset better the quality or performance of your product?

Rating approach:

Businesses can use a variety of parameters to assign a dollar value to patents. You should also determine the type of function that the IP is going to play for your business. Does it align with your objectives for the near future?

Qualitative methods are usually used for internal purposes as the number is arrived without taking financials into consideration. It is a great method if you want a sense of how it will fit into your portfolio by giving you an idea of the opportunities and risks involved. There are more common-sense inputs than hard data which will make a much better case to come up with a number.

Conclusion:

Now that you know that there are different methods which can be used to find the valuation of a patent, the method that you eventually choose should be binding on your business objectives. As seasoned professionals in this area, we would advise you to employ more than one method so that it is easy to corroborate them. Finding the value of IP can help you make significant business decisions which can alter your entire business trajectory.

If you need help with finding the value of a patent, get in touch with the Research Wire team and we will be able to assist you. We have processes and workflows in place to arrive at the value for a patent based on our extensive experience over the years.

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