First off, let’s acknowledge the fact that inventors can, and do, successfully file applications for patent protection without professional help. I would be the first to say ‘well done’ to those people. We’re talking about a lengthy process with many technical pitfalls. Successfully negotiating it is an achievement.
But there are reasons why – according to Intellectual Property Office data – your application is four times more likely to succeed if you use an IP specialist. For one thing, the process is highly prescriptive in terms of the information required and how it is presented.
There isn’t much leeway for new players who don’t fully understand the rules.
It’s probably also fair to say that a good patent attorney acts as a filter and weeds out ideas and inventions that are not patentable or have minimal chances of success. This can be disappointing news for the inventor but surely it’s best to get a realistic assessment earlier rather than later. There may still be viable options for IP protection such as design rights or trade marking.
A feasibility assessment won’t cost you much – certainly when compared to the money and time you will waste on an unsuccessful application.
You need to appreciate just how high the stakes are with a patent application. Here are a few key points that people new to the process don’t always appreciate:
- You cannot add anything to your patent application once submitted – absolutely nothing, no exceptions. If you missed any details about your invention, too bad. There is no opportunity to add them.
- Once your application is published it becomes ‘prior art’. In effect, it is in the public domain. You risk disclosing information in your application that lacks the detail needed to gain a patent but which could still count against any future applications. We discussed the importance of confidentiality in patent applications recently.
- If your application isn’t carefully worded and presented you may leave loopholes for competitors to ‘design around’ your patent. Any protection you get will then be less valuable. Even if you do succeed you will not have the most commercially advantageous protection that you could have secured.
When you choose to work with a specialist patents attorney you should get far more than just help with the intricate pathway through the application process. You should be getting expert advice on ensuring that your application secures the most sustainable economic benefit from your inventions.
You do really get what you pay for. Experienced attorneys know the usual pitfalls and are skilled at ensuring your application won’t fall into those traps. There are rarely second chances.
If your invention is the basis of your ambitions and your future, doesn’t it make sense to do all you can to ensure success in the present?