As patent attorneys, we meet inventors who are at different stages in the development of their invention. As a result, we get some inventors who contact us ‘a bit too early’ and some inventors who contact us ‘a bit too late’. Regardless, the important part is that you patent your idea as early as possible to protect yourself from unlicensed copycats who want to benefit from your hard earned success.
So, let’s go through some of the scenarios you might find yourself in and some of the questions you might be asking on your patent journey.
Am I too early?
Some inventors contact us early in the process before their idea is fully realized and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, contacting us before you have launched your product is ideal because trying to secure your rights after launch can be difficult.
During our free consultation, we will gather information about your idea and formulate a strategy on how and when it is best to move forward with a patent application.
What if I have already started selling my invention?
Some inventors contact us a bit too late in the process. For example, if you have already started making and selling your invention then you have probably waited a little too long. However, not all is lost! Some countries, including Australia, New Zealand and the United States, will still allow you to file an application that will not be impacted by your own actions as long as you file the application within a certain timeframe.
If you do find yourself in this situation, call us immediately and we can plot a path forward to ensure your rights both in Australia and internationally are secured as best as possible.
I have filed a patent application – what comes next?
Once your application is lodged, it will be examined to determine whether you have a patentable invention. For an invention to be patentable it must be novel (new) and inventive.
Broadly, the requirement of novelty is relatively consistent across the world in that an invention is considered novel if the invention has not been done before. The requirement for inventiveness is a little bit different across jurisdictions. Please see the article my colleague recently wrote on the differences between inventiveness in some jurisdictions (link).
When to contact a patent attorney?
The timing for filing a patent application will be specific to your circumstances, but it is always best practice to lodge an application before you start selling and showing your invention to others. We recommend contacting us before speaking with potential investors or manufacturers so that we can provide you with helpful advice and the best strategy to move forward. The most powerful tool in the patent process is being proactive. Too often we are contacted after someone’s invention has taken off and been copied. Don’t let that happen to you!
At Michael Buck IP, we offer at least one free, confidential consultation and so please do not hesitate to contact us if you have an invention in which you would like to pursue patent protection.