Jill Gilbert Welytok is the managing attorney for Absolute Technology Law Group LLC, which is a team of Registered Patent, Trademark and Transactional attorneys.
Ten Tips for Independent Inventors
- A patent is just a piece of paper: View a patent as a tool to protect something that is marketable and therefore potentially valuable, not a piece of paper that's going to make you rich
- Protect what is valuable: If you know you are going to file for a patent protection, do so sooner rather than later to protect your rights.
- Use provisional patents in early stages of development: Use provisional patent applications before you have tested the markets and fully developed your invention.
- Make sure your patent application covers your product: If you begin marketing your invention and later make changes that will add value in the marketplace, amend your pending application or file additional patents to protect those innovations.
- Do your preliminary research: Use Google Patents to perform your own search, keeping in mind that you will need an attorney to search recent applications and foreign patent refrences.
- Know your resources: Visit the USPTO website at www.uspto.gov and become familiar with the free resources that are available for individual inventors.
- Read your patent application before your attorney files it: You, as the inventor, should fully understand every word in the claims and be able to assist your attorney in identifying possible additional embodiments of your invention that should be covered in your claims.
- Make sure all contributing inventors are named: If anyone has contributed to the development of your invention, he or she must be named as a coinventer. Ask your attorney about having any coinventors assign their rights to you before filing the patent application
- Stay involved in the patent prosecution: In the event of an "office action" with a USPTO examiner, you have the opportunity to talk in person with the examiner to help secure the allowable claims.
- Understand the ongoing obligations of patent ownership: Ask your lawyer for a checklist of things you need to do after your patent issues, such as paying maintenance fees to the USPTO at 3 and 1/2, 7 and 1/2, and 11 and 1/2 years. Abandoned patents open the door to hungry competitors.