Have you just had a great idea about a product, a service, or even an app that will help people with some everyday task or just keep them entertained? That’s great. You should continue developing it. Unless you are an experienced inventor, you may not be aware of the fact how challenging the entire process of coming up with an idea and making it a reality can be.
Unfortunately, having an idea is just the beginning. There are numerous steps you have to take and tasks you have to complete. In this article, we will focus on only one aspect of this process – patent. We will tell you what it is exactly, should you go for it, but also how to check if your idea has already been patented?
What is a patent?
According to the formal definition, “a patent is a form of intellectual property that gives its owner an exclusive right over it over a certain period of time.” Basically, it means that once you get your idea protected, no one else will be able to use it, develop it, make it, and sell it. You can obtain this legal right even if you have just an idea. That’s right. You don’t need an actual product to apply for it.
You have to admit that this is very beneficial since you will have enough time to develop it without having to worry whether someone else will steal it. However, before you apply for it, you first have to make sure that a similar item isn’t already patented.
How to check if it already exists?
It doesn’t matter how unique and original your idea seems, you have to make sure that it isn’t already protected. Otherwise, you risk spending a lot of time and money in vain. Can you just imagine how disappointed you would feel if you were to learn that you can’t do anything with the item since it legally belongs to someone else?
Yes, you can do this search on your own, but you should think of it as a preliminary investigation. Even if you don’t find anything, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the patent doesn’t exist. Due to this reason, you should find and hire a professional who will do an extensive search and inform you of the result.
You should go with a company that employs experienced professionals that have been in the line of business for many years, and you can learn about one of these on https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/inventhelp.
Consider the keywords
First things first, you have to think about the keywords that you will use online. This search can last for days, if not weeks, so you should think of terms that exactly describe your idea to reduce the amount of time. In addition, you should also keep track of the words you use as well as any other details. If it proves to be a lengthy process, the last thing you want to do is waste time going over the results, or even worse, miss some of them altogether.
Start with the USPTO
Your first online stop should be the US Patent and Trademark Office website. Click on the Full Text and Image database and start looking for images and patents using the previously determined keywords. Nevertheless, don’t forget to go over the database of those that are still going through the application process. Make sure to use the Cooperative Patent classification system. By doing this, you will get a definition of the protected items. Then, if necessary, you can change the keywords to boost the search.
Move on to Google Patent Search
People consider the Google Patent Search service to be the simplest tool to do their preliminary investigation. It includes items from 17 patent offices from all around the world, which makes its database quite extensive. Don’t worry, there is an English translation for each item, so you won’t be tempted to skip some, or on the other hand, waste time translating the deceptions.
Find the nearest PTRC Library
Finally, it is time to do an in-person search, and you can do this by visiting the Patent and Trademark Resource Center. There is a network of these all across the country, so you just have to find the nearest one. These are established by the USPTO, and here you will get all the help you need from the library’s staff. They will answer all of your questions and also point you to the research sources you should use base on the description of your idea.
Should you patent your idea?
This question may seem unnecessary, but the truth is that you have to think about it. Remember all the time and money you will have to invest. You don’t want it all to be in vain, right? Firstly, you have to consider how your product will fit in today’s world, or how big the market for it is, to be more exact. Naturally, you shouldn’t be discouraged if there is already something similar, but you have to think about whether people will be interested in buying it. After all, there is no point in investing in something that won’t be in demand, that is, something you won’t be able to sell.
Conduct the ROI analysis. The next thing you have to do is check whether it will pay off in the long run. We have already mentioned it a few times, but bringing your idea to life and putting it on the market is an expensive process. Not only will you have to hire and pay lawyers, but you will also have to pay for the patent itself, and we are not even going to discuss the cost of the manufacturing process and marketing.
Finally, you should ask the following question. Will it be appealing to the investors? Unless you already run a company and have a pretty deep pocket, you will need to collaborate with investors. It almost doesn’t matter how original your idea is if you don’t make the right choice when looking for partners and don’t present the product in the best way possible. Due to this reason, make sure to conduct research and meet with people who will most likely find your idea appealing. What’s more, make sure to invest a lot of time and effort into that presentation because it has to be perfect.