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Secret Weapon For Startups: Provisional Patent Applications

Intellectual property is a startup’s most valuable resource.  When Ryan Frayneappeared on Shark Tank, his invention, an air mattress that you can inflate in a single breath, stood out from the copycat food products and gimmicky gift ideas that often appear on the show.  The shark investors unanimously advised him to patent the fast-inflating technology before viewers at home could have a chance to reverse engineer what they saw and create similar products that would exclude Frayne from the profits.  Patenting your intellectual property as early as possible is sound advice for inventors.  Even if you are still in the early stages of developing your product, it is never too early to file for a provisional patent.

What Is a Provisional Patent?

A patent is a certification that a person or company owns an idea such as a manufacturing technique, software application, or other technology or trade secret.  It is a good idea to get a patent if you have an idea that others will want to imitate because of its commercial usefulness.  When you have a patent, you are free to market your products or otherwise publicize your invention without fear of other people stealing your idea.  If they want to use your intellectual property in their own business activities, they must first get permission from you, the patent holder.  If someone infringes on your patented intellectual property by using it without your authorization, you have the right to bring a lawsuit against them.

A provisional patent is a patent for a product or another piece of intellectual property that is still being developed and is not ready to be marketed.  A provisional patent is valid for one year.  Like other patents, provisional patents can be renewed.

Why Are Provisional Patents Important for Startups?

Startups tend to operate on a small budget, and filing for a provisional patent is an investment of time and money, but it is a worthwhile one.  When you are seeking investors for your fledgling business, you want to be able to talk openly with them about your invention.  At the same time, you do not want to run the risk of one of the business contacts that you make during the startup phase adopting your invention while excluding you from the profits.   Likewise, you can show prospective investors that you are serious about your product and also that you are not a fool when it comes to business.  Because a provisional patent only lasts for one year, you can file for the patent under different terms the following year if you have changed your invention substantially or if you also want to include your investors as owners of it.

Contact The Rapacke Law Group About Provisional Patents

Protecting your intellectual property is important no matter how early the phase of your invention.  An intellectual property lawyer can help you file for a patent in a way that will help you avoid trouble in the future.  Contact The Rapacke Law Group in South Florida for a free consultation.

Andrew Rapacke
Andrew Rapacke
Andrew Rapacke is a registered patent attorney and serves as Managing Partner at The Rapacke Law Group, a full service intellectual property law firm. If you would like to speak with Andrew Rapacke, click here to schedule your free consultation.

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