Steps to Ensure Your Idea Remains Legally Yours
Disclaimer: As with any potential business venture, there are risks to consider before investing in a patents. Any and all investments should be accomplished at the potential patent holders own risk and please seek expert advice before pursuing a patent for any invention.
We have all had those amazing ideas pop into our heads from time to time or have seen a new invention come to market and think, “Why didn’t I think of that?”. Finding that one amazing invention can potentially set you up financially for life. Even though you may believe that it takes a highly complicated, technologically advanced idea to make an impact in today’s world, you would be surprised to learn that most of the low tech, simple ideas tend to make the biggest impact on the general public. However, it is not merely enough to have the right idea, but make it legally bound to you through the patent process. Acquiring a patent in the EU is possible, so if you have the next big idea rolling around in your mind, get it patented with these steps.
Do Your Research
It is common to believe that all that can be invented already is, but people still surprise the world with more and more new ideas. The key ingredient in finding a patent friendly product is originality. There are an endless number of patents already on the books, so finding an original idea is not as easy as it sounds. Your idea must be truly unique and without a previous patent tied to it. For those that have an idea in their mind right now, a little research into the products originality can go a long way.
Applying for a patent for any product starts with the initial application. The application process takes place in one of two ways. Initially, many applicants choose to procure a national patent in their own country and with a successful one in hand, choose to move into an EU patent for added protection. Either way you choose, an application must be filled out for your original idea. For the application process, the European Patent Office only takes applications according to the guidelines of the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) and the EPC (European Patent Convention).
Your EU patent application must be handed into the European Patent Office and must contain the following applicable additions to the application…
- A Request for a Grant – Grants are often a part of the process for gaining a patent and essentially, the European Patent Office inquires as to where you will receive funds should the idea be something the government or a large corporation would be interested in. Government grants are not always granted, but it does not hurt to ask in the instance your idea is a remarkably impressive one.
- Description of Your Invention – Naturally, the department wants to know exactly what is to be patented and where a picture can tell a lot, it is often necessary to provide an addition of a description for the department to get the entire picture of your invention.
- Patent Claims – This term may sound foreign to those who are not experienced in the patent world, but it is essentially the laid-out boundaries of your patent. They lay out legalities of your patent claims allow others to know these boundaries as well to avoid any possible copywrite issues related to your patent. When writing your patent claim, be clear and concise and try to avoid any wordage that could potentially be misunderstood.
- Drawings of the Invention – Not everyone is able to understand a product on mere description, so having a drawing or two available for the patent comity to look over will substantially help in getting the message out in regard to what your potential product actually looks like. Look to Google and more specifically, Google Patents, for examples of how to best represent your invention in patent drawings.
- An Abstract – Although you already have a description of the invention available, the description is very intricate including all details about the product. An abstract is somewhat similar but will have far fewer details about the product. Basically, an abstract is the essence of the product without the details. An abstract, just to give you an example of how short it is, is about 150 words in length, so very vague and brief about the product.
Provide the Application in the Correct Language
Applicants can apply for a patent in three different languages, French, English, or German. Should you require a different language for your patent application, a translation of the application is required, so the use of a translator is highly recommended in the instance you do not speak one of these three languages.
Examination and Patent Search
Upon filling out the application, the EPO examines every aspect of the application to ensure all required documentation is filled out in the correct language and all necessary additions such as pictures, explanations are all available for the patent office. The next step in the process is one of the most important steps.
Even though you may have done your research at the beginning before applying for your patent, the EPO must do their own investigation to determine the validity of your patent claim. They search through all previous patents through the European Search Report. Once completed you will be sent an explanation of their findings to determine if further advancement on the patent is possible. Provided there are no previous patents that match your invention of the claims you have made on behalf of the invention, and your application met the required criteria including, but not limited to, meeting the drawing standard.
Publication of the Patent Application
Once you have met all the above listed criteria and have passed the overall patent inspection, you will be granted the ability to actually publish your patent. The above process can on average 18 months to complete unless you have applied for priority status to expedite the process. At this point, the applicant is granted a period of 6 months to decide if they wish to pursue the patent in its entirety.
The applicant must pay all applicable fees by the end of the 6-month deadline and during this time frame, a protection is given to the patent to avoid it from being stolen. The process can take some time but is essential for those who are serious about pursuing their invention dreams. If you have an idea here are some tips in helping you reach your goals and reasons why a patent is necessary.
Avoid Legal Issues
The most important part of the patent process in the EU is to ensure that the product that has been invented does not have any previous similar inventions tied to it. Patents can be held for many, many years and the research done on patent applications ensures that the invention is, in fact original and therefore cannot be disputed by another claiming they are the original inventory. Patents guard against legal concerns.
Others Cannot Steal
Patents protect the inventor from would be thieves. Morally lose companies often look for ideas that come into their establishment without proper patents and simply take them from the inventory. Without a patent, there is no real proof that you invented the product, so a patent helps cover you and your idea from getting stolen by others.
Keep Your Idea Close
One of the best tips for those seeking a patent on an idea or invention they have is to keep the invention close to you. It is easy to think that those around you have your best interest at heart, but sometimes, the draw of the money made from a properly marketed invention can be far more attractive than a relationship. Keep your idea under lock and key. Do not fall prey to telling others your idea without a proper patent in hand. You will have plenty of time to tell others about your invention once your patent is properly secured.
Avoid Patent Schemes
There are a lot of misconceptions about patents and most are simply rumors. There is actually one called the “Poor Man’s Patent” in which you simply mail the description and picture of your idea to yourself and the postmark on the envelope is said to serve as a patent. This is entirely false, so please do not fall for this.
The only way to receive a patent in the EU is to do it legally. Anyone can apply for a patent on any invention, so do not be drawn into schemes in which a company claims they can help. Often, these companies are looking to profit off your idea and simply go through the steps outlined above and take a cut of your overall profits once the product hits the open market.
Never discount the ideas and inventions that come into your mind. They are valid and it is often the seemingly simple ideas that make the biggest impact in the world. Look around you and see what there is to discover. Do you see a problem with a current invention and have the means to fix it? Do you have a completely new idea that no one has ever thought of? Take the time to look around and you will be surprised at what you can come up with. We live in a beautifully open market society where everyone has the potential to allow their inventions and ideas to prosper.