So you've got what you think is a money-making idea and you want to make sure nobody else can monetize on it. As such, you've decided to apply for a patent so that you can guarantee the legal rights to your idea. Before you apply for your patent, however, there are some common mistakes you'll want to be aware of and avoid. This way, the entire process can go more smoothly and you can better secure your idea.
Skipping the NDA
First and foremost, if you have employees who are in on your idea, don't trust them not to try to patent it for themselves. Instead, play it safe by having your employees sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which will legally prevent them from stealing your ideas or even sharing them with others. Having an NDA in place is a great way to protect your idea until your patent application is approved and patent protection officially kicks in.
Waiting Too Long
One of the worst mistakes you can make is simply waiting too long to apply for your patent. Generally, you only have 12 months after your idea or product is first sold publicly before your patent application must be submitted. If you wait any longer, there's a good chance that your rights will be forfeited. If the clock is ticking on filing your patent application and you're feeling lost, consider working with a patent attorney to assist you through the process.
Not Doing a Patent Search
You might have a multi-billion dollar idea, but if it's already been patented before, you could be out of luck. Never assume your idea is novel just because you haven't seen or heard of it before. Instead, take the time to conduct a thorough search through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO); you can use their patent search tool to make sure you're not missing anything. You can also use an online patent search tool for this purpose.
Being Careless With the Application
Last but not least, make sure your patent application is thoroughly filled out before you submit it and that all required components are there. For example, if you're filing a patent for an invention, you may need to have detailed patent drawing submitted along with your application. Even one small mistake made on your application or one missing application document could result in the outright denial of your application.
For more information, go to sites of patent attorneys to see what advice they can offer.
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