Steps to patent a product provided by a patent attorney:
- Hire an experienced patent attorney.
- Determine whether you should consider a design patent, a utility patent, or both.
- Work with your patent attorney to conduct a patentability search.
- File your application with the USPTO.
- Respond to Office Actions by set deadlines.
Hire an Experienced Patent Attorney
As an inventor, you’ve likely invested a significant amount of your own money into developing your product, and at this early stage, the chances are you have not seen any profits, yet. It is understandable for entrepreneurs in your position to cut costs and stick to a budget, and you might even be considering managing the process to file a patent application on your own. It’s true that you can file a patent application without the help of an attorney, but it is not recommended.
While your DIY spirit has helped you to invent your new product, it may not be the best choice when it comes to pursuing a patent. Intellectual property law is difficult to maneuver, and learning as you go can be incredibly daunting and time-consuming. Rather than taking time away from product development to devote to filing your patent application, partner with an experienced patent attorney that can conduct a search, file your application, and even respond to important Office Actions. This will not only decrease your to-do list, but it will also increase your likelihood of approval, as well!
Determine Which Type of Patent Application(s) to Pursue
Before you begin the patent process, you may first need to determine which type of patent to pursue, i.e., a design patent and/or a utility patent. Design patents protect the non-functional, ornamental shape of a product, or in other words, how a product looks. An example of this might be the unique design of a running shoe. The design or shape of the shoe will not affect the performance of the shoe, but simply the aesthetics. You should consider a design patent if you are concerned with competitors trying to copy the appearance of your invention. Design patents are typically easier to obtain than utility patents, and their protections last fifteen years from the date of the patent grant.
While a design patent protects how your product looks, a utility patent will protect how it works. For example, the inventor of a lightweight, durable sole for a running shoe that allows the runner to go longer distances, for example, should file a utility patent application. If granted, a utility patent will generally last twenty years from the earliest priority date, although there are other considerations such as patent term adjustments and extensions that can impact the duration.
Depending on the content of your invention, you may consider filing one or both types of patent applications to protect your product in different ways.