If you’re wanting to license or stop people from stealing your product idea then a patent to protect the idea is vital.
A patent protects new inventions and covers how things work, what they do and how they do it. You can’t protect a whole concept but it will protect the method by which the idea carries out the over concept.
For a product to be patentable, an idea must be:
- Globally unique
- Have a non obvious inventive step
- Be capable of being made.
A patent isn’t as straight forward as paying for one and being automatically granted it, its not as black or white as that. So I’ve put together this list of our top 5 tips to improve your chances of getting a patent granted for your product idea.
1 Keep Stum!
It’s all too temping once you’ve had your eureka moment to tell everyone you know. DONT!! Even those people that you think you can trust, it opens you up for your idea to be stolen and can prevent you from patenting your idea once its out in the public domain. This will be classed as prior art .
If you are wanting to consult with anyone make sure you get a Non disclosure agreement (NDA) in place first. This will ensure that they will not use or disclose your idea to anyone else. You are more than welcome to copy our NDA. Before we speak to anyone regarding their idea we insist on getting one in place.
2 Do your research
This can be broken down into 2 tasks. You’ll be surprised how many people approach us with ‘NEW’ ideas and then we simply type the product into Google and there it is at the top of the list. Make sure you thoroughly research on-line before spending any money, its quick and simple to do.
Secondly carry out a worldwide patent search. You may not have found anything on-line but this still doesn’t mean that your invention isn’t protected. Even if they’re not doing anything with the patent they will still have the right to prosecute you should you wish to produce and sell the product in the country its protected in.
Once you file an application the Intellectual Property Office will carry out their own searches to look for prior art. It’s best to find prior art earlier rather than spending money developing the product idea and submitting an application to find out it has already been done.
3 Use a trained Patent Attorney to write your application
You don’t have to be qualified to write a patent application, we’ve come across thousands of patent application which have been written and drawn by the inventor and subsequently not granted. Again a patent isn’t black or white and is a legal document.
If you had a patent granted and let’s say ‘COMPANY A’ copied your idea and launched it in the country you had a patent in and you tried to sue. Their lawyers will pick holes in your wording and drawing to get round it. A patent attorney is well trained in the complex patent system and can improve your chances of getting an application granted and improving your changes of winning should you need to sue anyone for infringing on your patent.
4 Develop and Define your Product Idea
A strong patent application rests on a well drafted application and being able to clearly demonstrate how your product works and what exactly you’re claiming as being unique. The more detailed you can be the better. You will be in a better position showing for example how a spring mechanism works than just saying that there is a spring mechanism.
Having your product professionally developed and CAD modelled will allow for this. This could also open up opportunities where new intellectual property is created further strengthening the patent application.
5 Considered Registered design or trademarking?
A patent isn’t always the best way to protect your product. A registered design or trademark can also be used. A registered design can protect the appearance of a product whilst a trademark protects a name, slogan or logo. They can be a much cheaper way of protecting a product. Registering your company with companies house isn’t the same as registering a trademark and has no legal protection at all.
There are many successful products out there with no patents but rely on the their name and that way their products look. Take Trunki for example the little children’s ride on suitcase from dragons den. They don’t have a patent and there are many copies out there but they have continued to be successful due to their design protection and their household name. We can advise you which form of protection is best suited to your product idea.
One little extra bit of advice is be patient, the intellectual property office isn’t the speediest of organisation and at present can take 18 months to get a patent granted, but once you’ve got patent pending status you have a bit more flexibility to test the product with users and try and sell the protection for royalties. Stay positive, it’s still a great solution to escape the dreary 9-5 job.
- Keep quiet about your idea, only tell someone under NDA
- Do you research, search the web and patent database
- Use a trained patent attorney to make sure your application is water tight
- Develop and define your invention to strengthen the application
- Consider if a patent is actually the correct form of protection.
If you’re needing more advice on how to design, develop, patent and launch your product invention get in touch with us here. We are an expert team of patent researchers, Product Design and engineers and European patent attorneys who can effectively help you launch your product risk free.