Careful planning for the short-term and the long-term is essential for any business. Successful business owners always consider the return on investment when they make a major purchase or begin a project. Only the biggest companies have their own in-house intellectual property lawyers, though. Startups and small businesses that want to secure a patent for an invention often engage the services of a lawyer just for a specific task, such as obtaining an individual patent. When you seek legal advice about patents, it is important to communicate with your patent lawyer about your long-term goals for the invention you are seeking to patent and for your company in general. Misunderstandings, or even unscrupulous actions on the part of patent lawyers, can lead to lawyers giving you advice that works against the interest of your company in the long term. Here are some things about which you should be cautious when seeking patents and working with patent lawyers.
All Patent Applications Are Public, Even Rejected Ones
You may have noticed this when searching the USPTO website when researching prior art for your patent application. Once someone applies for a patent, anyone can read their patent application, even if the patent was rejected. If your patent application gets rejected, someone else can read your application, make the necessary modifications to it, slight though they may be, and then apply for and receive a patent for an invention based on your idea. A trustworthy patent lawyer will not rush you to submit your patent application before it is ready.
Sometimes a Provisional Patent Is All You Need
Provisional patents are temporary patents, valid for one year. When someone says that their invention is “patent pending,” it means that they have a provisional patent for it. Because they only last for one year, provisional patents are much easier to get than other patents. They are a fraction of the cost, and the patent prosecution process is much faster and simpler. A trustworthy patent lawyer will not pressure you to apply for a permanent patent when a provisional patent is all you need.
When You Don’t Need to Apply for a Patent at All
Applying for patents is not the only way to leverage your intellectual property. Patents are only for devices, technologies, and techniques; to apply for things that are not patent-eligible would be a wild goose chase. For example, you cannot patent a business name; instead, you should register a trademark for it. Likewise, you cannot patent a text or an artistic work; copyrights are appropriate for those. Additionally, applying for a patent for something that is already patented is a losing battle, although buying the patent from its current owner may be an option. Beware of patent lawyers steering you toward applications that are destined to fail.
Contact the Rapacke Law Group About Patents
The best intellectual property lawyers will help you prepare patent applications that serve your long-term goals and have a good chance of being accepted. Contact the Rapacke Law Group in South Florida for a free consultation.