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Most hardware startups find themselves thinking about intellectual property early-on and wondering if it is truly necessary for their invention. If you are planning to manufacture your product abroad, considering a crowdfunding campaign, wanting to speak with potential investors or find yourself constantly worrying about someone copying your invention, then meeting with a patent attorney is a great idea. In many cases, having a design or utility patent will be beneficial for your startup in the long-run.
Below are a few tips on how to prepare for your initial meeting with a patent attorney. Keep in mind that the first meeting can be free—being adequately prepared means that you will be able to glean as much knowledge as possible from this meeting.
The key to this description is to be concise. What does your invention do? What are the main functionalities of your invention? This written summary if often called an “invention disclosure statement”, however it doesn’t need to be formal and can be written in any form. Keep it to a page or less in length, and even a paragraph or two will be sufficient.
Write your description so that someone unfamiliar with the product can get an idea of what it does and the technology behind it. Patent attorneys deal with a variety of technology, but don’t always have an extensive technical background, so you want to be able to bring them up to speed quickly on your specific invention.
Seeing your invention is a quick and efficient way of describing your product to the patent attorney. A prototype allows the patent attorney to assess the product and understand the exact intricacies behind your invention. Depending on the exact nature of your product, a functional prototype might be just what you need for the meeting. However, line drawings or sketches of your product will also work for your initial meeting. These drawings don’t have to be formal, but they should be thorough.
This can sound slightly counter-intuitive since you are meeting with a patent attorney, however you should to conduct your own patent search beforehand. Search patent databases such as www.google.com/patents or www.uspto.gov using keywords from your “invention disclosure statement”.
From your patent research, print and bring the patents that are most similar to your idea. You can either print out the patent references or compose a list of them, so that they can be easily retrieved. This will provide a research starting point for the attorney as they conduct a more formal patent search.
We also suggest organizing the above information into a single file folder and include a business card. This way the attorney will have all of your invention information and contact information in one place.
Adequate preparation for this meeting ensures that you will get the most out of your initial meeting and hopefully gain a better understanding as to whether this route makes the most sense for your invention and stage of business.
Have additional questions about patents, prototypes or line drawings? Please send us an e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.
Patenting your product is an important step towards success but not necessarily one of your first orders of business. “Only 2 to 3 percent of all patented products ever make it to market,” which means you are going to want to make sure your idea is a sound invention or viable business before the patent process begins.
What exactly is a patent? “A patent is a right granted by a government to an inventor. It gives the inventor the exclusive right, for a limited period, to stop others from making, using or selling the inventor’s product without the permission of the inventor. When a patent is granted, the invention becomes the property of the inventor. A patent–like any other form of property or business asset–can be bought, sold and licensed.”
In the Entrepreneur article, To Patent or Not to Patent, there is a helpful list of factors to consider before you delve into the patent application process:
Once you’ve determined there are no roadblocks to commercial success, it’s time to consider whether or not you need a patent. Just as many inventors patent their ideas and never take them to market, thousands of products in the market today aren’t patented–or even patentable–at all. In addition, your attorney may recommend filing for a copyright or trademark instead–an easier and less expensive process–if it makes legal sense.
Learn more about patents and the patent process in To Patent or Not to Patent.
3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.