What are Provisional Patents and Why Tech Startups Need Them?
In today’s market, ideas are the new currency. The right idea can take you to the heights of your field, but only if you know how to use it for profit and how to protect it until it grows into a beautiful and solid project.
And, since many innovative ideas of the tech industry are generated by startups (just look at how Apple, Google, and Microsoft started), we have to talk about patents.
In short, a patent is one of the tools governments offer companies to protect their ideas and intellectual property. Once filed and accepted, a patent can impede others from using a technology or idea without paying the inventor an agreed fee. In addition, patents can attract investors or can be used for funding applications.
However, not all ideas can be made into patents, and some shouldn’t be. So, how do you know, especially as a startup, how to deal with patents, and which path is best for you?
Draft A Solid IP Strategy
In the race to protect intellectual property (IP) timing is everything. However, you can’t just file for a patent whenever you feel like it. The process is quite lengthy and troublesome, especially if you’re doing it by yourself.
This is why you need a well-devised plan, with steps and action strategies, to make sure all your bases are covered. First of all, you must check if your idea is patentable (also called a novelty search). Next, you need to perform a thorough search in the existing patents database, to make sure you are not infringing on someone else’s intellectual property also known as an infringement search) or if other people already beat you to the punch.
Once this step is complete, you can file a provisional patent. This application is valid in Canada and the United States Patent and Trademark Office and establishes an early filing date. However, it is not an application for a fully issued patent and it does not become one unless you file a non-provisional patent application within one year.
As soon as this step is complete, you need to start working on the real patent application. For this, you will need the right law firm to represent your interests. While the assistance of a law firm is not mandatory, it is highly advisable to hire the services of a specialized patent attorney. They already know the nooks and crannies of the law and can save you hours of research. Also, if you’re not familiar with patent filing, it’s easy to miss valuable bits of information that may prove vital in the end.
Patents are not the easiest thing to get, especially considering the amount of work and time it takes to get one. However, if you plan on presenting your idea to the world or creating an innovative product, a patent can help protect your rights and profits. Still, it is crucial that you start with a solid IP strategy and a reliable law partner in order to navigate all the requirements and deadlines.
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