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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

Hey and welcome to “How to Get a Patent on Your Idea.” Did you know that if you post on social media about your invention, trying to get your friends to give you some feedback, you could actually be forfeiting rights on your patent? So stay tuned. We’re going to get to more details about what it means and how long you actually have before your rights expire.

I’m JD Hoover and I’m the CEO and Principal here at Bold Patton’s Law Firm. I’m going to be here today talking about what it means to get a patent on an idea and some of the nuances all the way along the track.

You’ve got to know right out of the gate that when I say “idea,” it kind of pangs me a little bit because I know that ideas, well certainly valuable, are by nature dime a dozen. Okay, everybody’s got ideas – fun, cool, big, small, efficient – but what does it mean to actually bring an idea to an invention?

The major difference is that an invention is something you’ve really thought about. You’ve thought through it well enough to where you could describe it – how to make it and how to bring it about just on paper. Right, on paper through drawings. Someone else could take what you wrote and go build it. That’s an invention.

We work with inventors at Bold Patents. We want you to move from idea to invention with us and with our help. One thing I’ve got to mention upfront too is that ideas sometimes can get carried away. These are big ideas! You think about how you can improve things and it oftentimes comes with some barriers—cost issues, maybe government regulations blocking the situation.

Something you have to know is that there’s no requirement to build a prototype. Don’t think you have to spend ten or even a hundred thousand dollars building your prototype. If the idea is that big, you’ve simply got to be able to articulate through words and drawings to move your idea from that phase to an invention.

Let’s get started. The next step is: Is your patent eligible? Do you fit into one of the four patent areas? Do you have a machine, a process, an assembly, or a composition of matter? If you fit into one of those categories you’re patent-eligible—you can move forward.

If you have any questions about what those categories mean and want more information about whether your specific invention is eligible, I encourage you to visit our website BoldIP.com. We’ve got lots of free resources there for you—someone who’s just getting started or someone who’s maybe inventing their second project who wants a little more advanced information. We’ve got that for you too.

And I want to show you really quickly the book I wrote just a year and a half ago, “Bold Ideas: The Inventor’s Guide to Patents”. This has got all the essentials that you need to understand—what’s the difference between a patent and a trade secret patent and a trademark? This is it. Grab your free copy downloadable PDF version on our website BoldIP.com today.

So after you’ve figured out whether your invention is eligible or not, the next step is: Okay, which inventors should I indicate? This sort of can be sort of coming out of left field, but if you’re not the only inventor, you’re actually obligated to include all the inventors in the application.

So when does someone actually become an inventor? Generally, an inventor is someone who has added to the conceptual idea. There’s a foundational principle and some people get confused. They think that someone who manufactures a product or helps with the prototype is part of—or should be listed—as an inventor. And that’s not true.

Right, someone can be the architect, the designer known as the inventor and says “please make this plan”. The person that makes it—well, while they’re well in their craft and good at their skill—they didn’t actually invent and come up with any aspects of it.

If you have any more questions about inventorship again, please give us a contact. And if you’re getting good and valuable information on this video, we’d love to get this out to as many inventors as possible so please give us a like or thumbs up. Share this video with someone you know that could really use this information. We want to help all inventors reach their visionary dreams.

All right, so once you’ve kind of identified who the inventors are, it’s next important to understand the ownership. Sometimes employees are also inventors. Right, you’ve got day jobs. So something to really make sure you’re clear about is that if you want to own this invention on your own, you’ve got to do so on your own time, and that includes using your own resources.

So if you’re using a computer, using a 3D printer, if you’re using some sort of CAD system, you’ve got to understand your own resources need to be used and it can’t be related to the job you have. So another deep dive inquiry: if there’s sort of a gray area—maybe you were on the clock, maybe you’re even assigned to a project and it’s related to what you’re trying to seek protection for—get with us right away. We need to make sure it’s clear who’s going to own this thing. The last thing we want to do is end up taking your money and have the patent owned by your business.

Okay, after inventorship and ownership are cleared, the way to get a patent is to make sure you’re going to be clear about what your goals are. So are your business goals to own this thing long term? To have a business created around it and to make this a really long lasting business? Or is it your goal to really just license and sell it, get it done?

If it’s the latter, you’ll want to work directly with us as patent attorneys and just get your patent packaged up so that it’s most lucrative—most valuable to someone looking to license and sell it.

If your goal is to start a new business—I mean good on you right? That’s how this country was founded. That is what entrepreneurs are all about. Love serving them but know that we are just a part of the professional sphere of the people you need to get a hold of to make this dream happen.

So we do our best to refer you to the people that we have trusted over the years to help our clients out, succeed in business. So let us know upfront. Work with an attorney to make sure they’re clear about what your goals are so you can get referrals to the people that you need to help get help with down the road.

So the next thing to look at this goes back to my social media question right at the beginning: Okay, if you’ve talked about your invention and shared your invention, there is a one year statutory rule. Right, one year. That’s 12 months. If you have disclosed your invention online—talked about what your invention is, showed a video about what your invention does to get feedback, put it up on Kickstarter, or even sold your invention (which includes making an offer for sale) more than a year ago—you are ineligible for patent protection.

I know that’s tough to hear so there are some workarounds. If you are under that category where you’ve actually disclosed your invention more than a year ago it could be—it could be that you’ve invented, you made some improvements on your invention since you posted that. You could get protection over just those improvements and we could certainly talk about that at a free consultation with one of our advisors. And move forward to help you with getting in touch with the patent attorney today.

All right, so the next thing to think about is worrying about the patentability. Okay, so as you get down this path, you’ve explored eligibility mentorship ownership now you’re past the statutory bars—you’re not going to be barred. You haven’t disclosed your subject matter; you’re not at issue there. Now is your invention patentable?

That means you have to show—you have to show three things: novelty, non-obviousness and it has to have utility. Those are the three biggies. Without those three, you can’t move forward.

Novelty just means it has to be new—new in the world. It has to be non-obvious, you know, not an obvious version of another “prior art” that’s already out there. Prior art is just a fancy word for any reference—technical or otherwise patent document or non-patent document—that’s talked about the industry, talked about your type of technology. If it’s out there in the market, the examiner will find it. That’s what you’ve got to know upfront: if you’ve got an obvious iteration or something that’s already been done before…

Utility means you have to show there’s some benefit—some entertainment value even some financial benefit, some economic benefit, or mechanical leverage. And so on, those are all great utilities to show.

All right, so the second piece of whether you move forward or not is looking one at patentability but the other one is marketability. Don’t forget your end goal should be to make money and to be successful in business. So not only do we want to look at “Hey, can we get you a patent on this?” but “Will this succeed in the market?” You’ve got to take a look at both of those pieces as a business owner, as an inventor moving forward to make a sound business decision.

Now we’re at the phase of being able to prepare your application for filing. You’ve got all this work behind you working with your patent attorney. How do you move to the next stage?

You’ve got to put together the written description, the written description is what has—what’s also called the specification (the spec). The spec talks about every single part of your invention and how it is coming together—the how, the details. This explains through words how to build it, how it functions, what the inputs and outputs are. And in the end, it will provide the basis for what you’re claiming is yours and which you invented.

So when you submit the written description, the claims, and the drawings to the Patent Office you do so most effectively by electronically filing submittal. That will actually save you some money. The USPTO has done a lot lately to help move things in the right direction and move toward a paperless environment so that’s awesome.

Well there’s one final thing to think about when you file your application in the U.S.: Do not be short-sighted, think big! So think about international protection. Get with your patent attorney to think about what it might take to get your patent filed in other countries. There’s a fantastic mechanism called the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) that will allow you to file in as many countries as you want and also give you time—up to a year and a half—to decide when to file in which country.

So stay tuned for more. We’ve got a separate video on the Patent Cooperation Treaty coming up. It’s been so fun talking with you here today about how to get a patent—what the fundamentals are all the way through in this all-step process. If you have any questions at all we’d love to feel those questions, give us a thumbs up, like, and share this video with anyone you might know.

Again, I’m JD Hoover the CEO and Patent Attorney Managing Partner of Bold Patents with you here today. Go big. Go bold!

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at https://boldip.com/contact/