Sometimes, inventing a new product or design is not the most challenging part of the creative process. While some novel concepts take years to formulate, others are constructed in a matter of days or even hours after a burst of inspiration strikes an individual or team of individuals. Whether it took you two hours, two years or two decades to create your novel product, design or process, know that your work is not yet complete. In order to better ensure that you may legally use your innovation in a public setting and/or profit off of it, the next step in your creative process is protecting your intellectual property.
Working with an experienced intellectual property attorney will allow you to benefit from knowledgeable guidance and practical support as you seek legal recognition and protection for your novel product, process, design or plant species. Because your creation is neither an original work of authorship or artistry, nor is it comprised of words or graphics used to distinguish a brand, you will need to pursue patent protections instead of copyright or trademark protections. Of all the legal tools available to assist creative individuals and businesses in safeguarding their work, patents are notoriously the most challenging to secure. Working with an attorney experienced in the patent application process is a critical step in helping to better ensure your application’s ultimate approval.
But before you begin working with an intellectual property attorney in earnest, you may benefit from taking a few proactive steps on your own. Working to establish a foundation for your application will assist your attorney in proceeding as efficiently and as effectively as possible. If your attorney does not have to begin work on your patent application process from scratch, you will likely save yourself some time and money along the way. In addition, you will be generally empowered and will allow yourself the opportunity to have well-grounded confidence in your application process moving forward.
Conducting a “First Look” Patent Search
One of the most tedious and time-intensive steps an individual must take when completing the patent application process is conducting a thorough search of existing patents. This step is critical because it will assist you and your attorney in understanding whether any significant pieces of so-called “prior art” may compromise the ultimate success of your application. The United States Patent and Trademark Office will not approve your application if your product, process, design or plant species fundamentally resembles creative work that has already been protected. As a result, it is important for your attorney to thoroughly search through existing patents in order to determine whether your work too closely mirrors previously protected pieces.
The process of conducting a final patent search takes a great deal of experience, time and specific resources. For example, when conducting a final search, your attorney will likely utilize a subscription patent search platform designed to track and analyze his or her search in detail. These subscription services are far too expensive for businesses and individuals to purchase for the purposes of searching for patents related to a single or a few patent applications. However, they serve as excellent resources for attorneys when they seek to browse decades’ worth of information related to existing patents.
Before your attorney conducts his or her final search of both obvious and obscure patent information, it may benefit you to conduct a brief, free “first look” search on either the USPTO’s website and/or Google’s free patent-related platform. This initial search will help you determine whether there are any glaring pieces of prior art out there that could compromise the success of your application. If there are, you can then alter the design of your creation accordingly until it no longer fundamentally mirrors another protected work.
If you know that your product or design is somewhat similar to another specific patented piece of creative work, begin by searching your chosen database by patent number or by the name of the inventor who created the protected work. You will then be able to browse the relevant patent application to see whether your work is fundamentally similar. To browse by inventor name, simply type “in/” in order to let the search engine know that you are looking for an inventor. Follow that prefix with the inventor’s last name, followed by his or her first name, separated and followed by hyphens. Finally, add a “$” symbol at the end, in case the inventor has a middle name listed in the database. An example of a completed inventor name search looks like this: in/jobs-steve-$. You also may want to try shortened or lengthened versions of an inventor’s first name, as appropriate. For example, you may lengthen the above example to in/jobs-steven-$.
Once you have completed your search of obvious terms and topics related to your innovation, you may alter your work as necessary and then complete an additional first look search. Be sure to save any notes you may have taken on your patent search for your attorney. Your intellectual property lawyer will likely be interested to see what patents you have already determined may or may not be relevant to your own application.
Intellectual Property Assistance Is Available
Effort and ingenuity result in something truly novel and that creative work should be properly protected under the law. If you are interested in securing patent protections for your novel product, process, plant or design, please consider reaching out to the intellectual property team at LawTrades today for an opportunity to connect with an experienced intellectual property attorneys that suits your needs.