Thursday, February 11, 2010

Proving Due Diligence: Steps for Gaining a Patent

You have a wonderful idea; you know it could make you millions, do you:
  1. Take out an ad in the New York Times broadcasting your new discovery.
  2. Write up a research paper and present it at the next tradeshow, university staff meeting, or Toastmasters event.
  3. Talk about it to a few friends, but never act on it.
  4. Keep your mouth shut, start researching, and keep meticulous records.
I think the choice is obvious, but just in case you didn’t get the point. The answer is 4.  If you have a new invention and you are dying to share it to the world, don’t. You need to start working towards your invention, proving due diligence by consistently  working on your invention is what it takes to make your invention a profitable means of income for you and your family.
Hopefully, these steps will assist you in your goal. It is imperative that you are organized and consistent.  You have two years to prove that you are moving towards your invention. That’s really not a long time when you have a myriad of outside obligations that try and stop you from attaining your goal.
Step 1: The Journal
Get a bound notebook. Use it as place to store all information, research, drawings and diagrams that you create of your project.  Write the date on every page of your journal. Keep track of everything you do towards the project. Are you reading books? Take notes and date it. Are you going to a fabric store? Take notes and date it. Did you go to a trade show, convention, or sales meeting? Take notes and date it. Any type of research! Take notes and date it.  Did you call someone and talk about your business? Take notes and date it.  This shows that you are consistently working on your invention daily!
The journal is so important!!! You must do something EVERYDAY towards your project.  The only excuse that you can use for missing dates is vacation or illness. I strongly suggest saving plane tickets, toll receipts, hotel receipts, whatever you used for vacation. I’m not a tax attorney, but if you decide to take a break on vacation, think about how you can combine your vacation and your business together. If you are deathly ill and can’t continue working on your project, keep track of hospital visits. You don’t want a hanging chad on your patent application. Don’t leave any room for questions!
Step 2: Drawings and sketches
In order to prove that you created this design, find someone who will act as a witness to your work. The witness will not receive credit for invention. Your witness is an outside observer. This person is just a sounding board. They are a witness to your actions and your work on your project. I also suggest going to a notary, this adds more legitimacy to your claim.
Step 3: Explain your invention
The purpose of the patent system is to educate the public and foster innovation. Your role as the inventor is to educate. You need to write a document that fully explains how your invention works. You need to describe the design, structure and possible uses of your invention. After you write this document, get it signed and dated by a witness. The witness will not be considered an inventor.  It’s possible that you may make changes to your invention. If so, re-write your document and repeat the process. Save all papers and dates. This shows your work.
Step 4: Find a reputable patent attorney
While you are working on your invention, start scouting attorneys. Find someone who is compatible. Check their track record. A simple word search in your area may bring up a variety of names and organizations that can help you get a patent. Talk to someone who has experience in your area. Many of them will provide you with a free consultation. Ask as many questions as possible.
It’s a myth!
You may have heard about a cheaper way to get a paten is to mail it to yourself. Well, it’s a myth. If you can steam open an envelope and reseal it, then this form of “patent” becomes invalid.
Don’t waste your time!
You may have heard about provisional patents, something to do in a rush. Well, they are invalid once you start filing the real paperwork. Don’t waste your time!
I am not a paten attorney. I am not an inventor. I am just interested in protecting my ideas. Please seek out your own counsel. The background research for this article was from, Protecting your #1 Asset by Michael A. Lechter, Esq. He’s an intellectual property attorney residing in Arizona. He’s also a Rich Dad Advisor from Robert Kiyosaki’s advisor series.

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