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Is a PCT Application Right for You?

One of the common decisions startups and entrepreneurs have to make is whether or not to file a PCT application. To put this question in context, it's important to understand what a PCT Application is and what a PCT Application is not. A PCT Application is a type of non-provisional patent application that can secure your priority date in most countries. Anytime you file a patent application you are entering a world-wide race to the patent office. There is no prize for second place. You can win most of the entire international competition by filing one PCT Application to secure your priority date in 153 countries around the world. This makes the PCT Application the ultimate innovation place holder. Now let's talk about what a PCT Application is not. A PCT Application is not a patent application that - by itself - will ever become a patent in any country. Instead, a PCT Application is a non-confidential, international placeholder application that can serve to secure your priority date for up to 30 months in most countries. PCT Patent Application = Published + Placeholder + Holds for up to 2.5 years. For example, you can file one PCT application to protect…

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Is a Provisional Patent Application Right for You?

One of the most common questions I get is: should I file a provisional patent application? The answer to this question depends on what you need. To put this answer into context, it's important to understand what a provisional application is and what a provisional patent application is not. A provisional patent application is basically an official letter to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that a basically says: you want to file a patent application, but you're not quite ready yet. But if you do, you want to hold your place in line. In other words, a provisional patent application is a confidential placeholder that holds your place at the patent office for up to one year. Now let's talk about what a provisional patent application is not. A provisional patent application is not a patent application that can issue as a US patent. This point is so important that I'll repeat it. A provisional patent application - by itself - will never result in a US patent. A provisional patent application can only serve to secure a priority date for a non-provisional patent application. Provisional Patent Application = Confidential + Placeholder + Up to 1 year.…

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How Long Does It Take To Get A Patent?

One of the most common questions I get is: how long does it take to get a patent? My question in response could be: How long do you want it to take? The longest I've seen a patent application take to issue as a US patent was about 10 years. The least amount of time I’ve seen for a patent application to issue as a US patent was 2 months flat. The time it takes to get a US patent depends on the filing strategy used, how quickly you can reach agreement with the examiner, and how much money you have to spend on getting a patent. First and foremost, there is no guarantee that your patent application will issue as a US patent at all. For example, I've seen many patent applications go abandoned because the inventors ran out of money during the patent application process. This may be due to changing economic conditions such as the COVID-19 pandemic or an inability to reach agreement with the examiner until the inventor’s funds are depleted. But most of the time, how long it takes for a patent to issue depends on your business needs. For example, many pharmaceutical companies and…

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How Quickly Can You Get A Patent?

One of the most common misconceptions that I run into is the idea that it takes many years to get a patent application issued as a US patent. This is false. The truth is: it CAN take years for a patent application to issue as a US Patent. However, you CAN choose to have your patent application issue as a U.S. Patent in as little as a few months. How quickly a patent application can issue as a US patent critically depends upon which filing strategy you use and how quickly you can reach agreement with a US patent examiner. If you choose to file a regular priority US non-provisional utility patent application, then the United States Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) will examine your patent application for patentability in an average of 16 to 18 months. This average means that your patent application stands little or no chance of being allowed in less than a year and a half. But what if you are ready to start selling right now?!? Did you know that you can pay to go to the front of the line? That’s right! You can choose to file a PRIORITIZED non-provisional patent application that the USPTO…

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How Quickly Can You File A Patent Application?

I get calls from inventors all the time who want to know how quickly they can file a patent application. This question usually arises because the inventors are in a hurry to start selling their invention, to publish their invention, or to talk with investors. The short answer to this question is: you can file patent application as soon as it's ready. The filing process itself is electronic and nearly instantaneous. However, for the purposes of this post, it will be assumed that you will have a patent attorney help you draft your patent application. And that takes time. There is no set limit for how long it takes to prepare a patent application. However, most patent applications take about 30 to 40 hours to draft. This estimate includes the initial inventor interview when the patent attorney interviews the inventor to learn as much as possible about the invention. This estimate also includes the process of drafting the patent application and revising the patent application based on inventor feedback. This estimate does not include a patentability search or a freedom to operate search. Those are usually separate, optional services. Typically, the process from start to finish takes about 3-5 weeks,…

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Can You Leave Claims Out of Provisional?

Common Patent Questions: Can You Leave Claims Out of Provisional? Can You Add Claims Later? To the first question, yes — the same way you can jump out of a flying airplane without a parachute. Just because you can do it, doesn’t make it a good idea. To understand why, you need to understand how a provisional is treated by the patent office. When you file a provisional patent application, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) does NOT examine your provisional. They merely ensure that it was filed with a cover sheet and proper payment. You can print out this post and file it as a provisional application and the USPTO will accept it. Do you think this post will protect your invention? Content matters. When does a non-provisional get examined? When your non-provisional patent application gets examined, then the Examiner may allege that your claimed invention is known or obvious over some public disclosure made between the time when your provisional and non-provisional were filed. The Examiner will basically say: prove it. Prove your invention, as defined by the claims, was filed in your provisional application. The best way to do this is to point to the…

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Can I Change My Provisional Patent?

Common Patent Question: Can I change my provisional patent? As a patent attorney, I often get asked something like: “I filed a provisional patent application, but I recently got great experimental results, OR actually made a prototype, OR improved my invention. Can I change my provisional patent application to add these improvements?” Yes, you can update your provisional application by filing another provisional and claiming priority to both. One of the great things about filing a provisional application is that you can improve on your invention for a year before filing a non-provisional application. Once you file a non-provisional application, you cannot make any material improvements. Technically, U.S. Provisional Patent Applications cannot be amended for any reason. However, realistically, you can file as many provisional applications as you want within a year of your original filing. We just add your improvements into the document of your original provisional and file it as a second provisional. Then, when we file the non-provisional, we claim priority to both provisional priority dates. This is the patent equivalent of “saving your work” as you go. Want to protect your invention? Call us at 832-621-0353 to schedule a complimentary consultation and we will be happy…

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Part 8: How to Patent an Idea: A Guide for Beginners

This is the last post in my series - How to Patent an Idea: A Guide for Beginners Thank you for taking the time to read my insights on how to understand patent claims. I hope this information was useful and helped to clear up some of the confusion that comes with pursuing a patent. Here is a quick summary of the main takeaways discussed throughout this series: Patents Only Protect Your Invention In Their Country of Origin. Only Issued Patents Can Be Used To Sue A Competitor. Only The Claims Of A Patent Protect Your Invention.Claims Are Usually Open-Ended: Make Sure That Your Claims Only Recite Essential Aspects Of Your Innovation. Patent Attorneys Are Claims Fundamentalists: Make Sure That Every Word Is Necessary And Not Overly Limiting. Challenge Every Word! Try To Envision All Variations Of Your Innovation And Ask Your Patent Attorney If Your Claim Will Cover That Variation. Find The Bottlenecks Created By Science, Your Application, Or Regulations, And Claim Them. It is up to you to ensure that your patent is valuable, and your ideas are well protected. If your current patent attorney doesn’t seem to have the time to help you prevent design around, Childs…

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Part 7: How To Prevent Design Around

You can listen to this blog below: How to Patent an Idea: A Guide for Beginners This is the seventh post in my series How to Patent an Idea: A Guide for Beginners. In the previous articles I’ve discussed how to understand patents, common types of claims, protecting your product or method, and many other topics. Hopefully by now you’re feeling a little more informed about the patent claim process. In this article we’ll discuss how to prevent design around. How Can I Prevent Design Around? The term “design around” is commonly used when referring to some minor change that allows a competitor to avoid infringing the claims of your patent. Depending on your technology, you may not be able to prevent all design around, however you can make it as hard as possible for your competitors to steal your invention. In exchange for disclosing your innovation to the public, the government will grant you a patent that allows you to sue others for using or selling your invention without first requesting permission. The purpose of the patent law system is to encourage the public disclosure of innovation, not to protect you from competition. This may seem like a subtle…

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Provisional Patent Applications: What You Need To Know, Part 24

How Do You File A PCT Application Or A National Stage Application? You can hire a patent attorney to files these for you, OR If you are the application owner, then you can file them yourself. Due to the complexity of patent law, I highly encourage you to hire a U.S. patent attorney or U.S. patent agent to draft and file your PCT application or U.S. National Stage Application for you. While I cannot guarantee that my services are a good fit for your needs, why not call me to see if I can bring some value to what you are doing? READY TO TALK? Call me direct at 832-621-0353 or email me to schedule a FREE, no-obligation consultation. If you decide to file yourself, you can learn more by visiting PCT or National Stage Applications. How Much Does It Cost To File A PCT Application? The cost of filing a PCT application depends on many factors including who drafts and files your PCT application, on the size of your business, and on the particulars of the PCT application itself. PCT Filing Fees: PCT application filing fees are complex and mostly depend on the size of your business (entity) and…

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