Are you an inventor who has come up with a unique idea that you want to protect? If so, it’s essential to understand how to protect your invention broadly to prevent others from designing around your patent. The patent process can be complex. At any step along the way, you could make a mistake that would cause you to lose or jeopardize your patent protection. However, with the right guidance and understanding, you can successfully navigate the process, and secure broad patent protection, all within your budget.
We’ll go over the steps you need to take to broadly protect your invention. Also, we’ll cover how to manage your expenses while doing so.
Conduct a patent search to help you broadly protect your idea
You might be wondering or asking how a patent search helps you to broadly protect your idea. After all, a patent search or novelty search is primarily used to determine whether you could obtain a patent. However, the patent search can be used for more than just that. You can use it to determine the white space for your invention.
The patent or novelty search can be used to help you to determine if it would be worth it to spend more time and energy in certain areas or on certain features of your idea or product. For example, if your product had 3 different features and the patent search uncovered 1 of those ideas. It would be worthwhile to spend more time and money on fully and broadly protecting the other 2 aspects of your idea.
Build a patent portfolio, don’t just obtain one patent
Oftentimes, when clients come into my office, they are thinking about obtaining one patent. The last thing on their mind is obtaining a portfolio of patents. The cost, the complexity, and whether it’s worth it are all things that go through their minds as we talk. However, as their businesses grow, they understand the need to build a portfolio of patents and not just obtain a single patent.
Your competitors may be able to design around one patent. However, it’s much more difficult to design around many patents or a portfolio of patents.
My job is to help you do this cost-efficiently.
How many patents can be secured for one product?
Many patents can be secured for one product. As a simple example, we could patent not only the product itself but the manufacturing processes, the method of using the product as well as many different aspects of the product.
Even if the competitor might be smart enough to avoid infringement for the product patent, they’d have to be smart enough to avoid patent protection for all of your patents such as the process of manufacturing or the method of use. It’s much harder to avoid the infringement of multiple patents. These are simple examples of the different types of patents that can be obtained for a product. Behind the scenes, there are many different aspects of the product that we could protect as a patent.
How to build a patent portfolio on a budget?
The most important question on your mind is how to do all of this on a tight budget. The strategy for building a patent portfolio on a budget is to do it slowly. At first, we would obtain one patent for your product.
However, after securing the first patent for you, the goal is not to hurry up and secure more patents. Rather, the goal is to minimize your costs. You need to spend as much money on marketing, operations, and other aspects of your business to grow your profit, not on patent legal expenses. All of this is done while preserving your right to secure additional patents by filing a continuation application.
Once your business is profitable, then it still isn’t time to secure more patents. Rather the goal is to still reduce or minimize legal expenses. You need to continue to grow your business. However, once there is a business justification (i.e., an infringement by a competitor), we need to take a look at your patent to see if your competitors are infringing on your patent.
If not, then with the continuation application, we can revamp the claims to cover your competitor’s version of your patented product. At this time, your expenses will rise but only because there is a business justification for it.
Seek broad claim language in your patent
To secure broad patent protection, you need to have broad claim language in the claims of your patent. However, this is easier said than done. Typically, when you have broad claim language, the examiner will reject your patent application much more frequently. As such, you will have to narrow your claims to overcome the examiner’s rejection of novelty and nonobviousness.
On the other hand, my basic strategy is to use claim language of medium breadth in the patent. For example, the breadth of the claim language that I suggest would be one that is broad enough for your vertical market.
An invention may be used in many different fields but I recommend initially seeking patent protection for your field of use. In this way, it would be easier to convince the examiner to grant you your patent. Of course, securing a patent in many different fields of use for your invention would be beneficial to you. However, immediately, for your business, it’s important that you secure a patent for your field of use to prevent others from competing against you in your field of use. Having patent protection in many different fields of use do you no good unless you can monetize that protection.