What Every Product Designer Should Know About Patent Applications
Patenting a creation is the only way to protect your design and your contribution. However, most people, designers and developers included, aren't well educated about the patent application process. There are a few key things that you should understand when it comes to your patent application considerations.
Is A Patent The Right Solution?
First and foremost, it's important to determine if a patent has the right solution for your design. Sometimes, there are trade secret considerations, or you may find that a trademark or copyright is more suitable depending on the situation. It can be difficult to tell sometimes, so you may want to talk with an intellectual property attorney before you create your patent application. An attorney can review the design and the concepts to help you decide on the right solution.
Have You Made It Publicly Known?
In most situations, patent law has restrictions regarding when you can apply for a patent. If you've already made your product design known to the public, you only have a certain amount of time after that declaration to file for your patent. You'll want to talk with an attorney about the guidelines so that you can be sure that you are still eligible for a patent.
Are You Sure That There Are No Existing Patents?
The patent database contains millions of patent applications, drawings, and issued patents. It's important to be sure that your product concept is truly unique in some way and not already covered by an existing application. While you can conduct some cursory searches yourself, this research is often best left to a professional who knows how to navigate the patent database and search the archives.
Have You Created The Product?
One of the biggest challenges for many people when it comes to patent applications is understanding the difference between a product and an idea. If you have a product concept, including sketches, designs, and other specifics, that's not patentable. If you've turned that concept and those sketches into a tangible product, that is eligible for a patent. You must have a product to file for a patent because patents don't cover concepts or ideas.
These are just a few of the things you should know before you start filling out a patent application. Talk with an intellectual property lawyer today for more guidance through the application and documentation process. The more preparation you do ahead of time, the greater your chances of successfully obtaining that patent.