A common misconception is that if you have an invention that’s unique, you’ll be able to apply for a patent through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
While having a unique invention is one piece of having a patentable product, the invention must also be novel, or new. An invention is considered novel if it’s:
- Not something already patented; or
- Has not been publicly used, described or on sale anywhere in the world.
It’s this second point that trips up a lot of inventors and prevents them from being able to patent their invention. Every now and then, we will talk to someone who has a really unique product, and then they tell us that they’ve brought it to market and even tried selling it prior to reaching out to an attorney.
What they don’t realize is that in the US you become ineligible for a patent if you disclose your invention to the public more than 12 months before you file. Doing this takes away the “novelty;” your idea is no longer considered “new” in the eyes of the USPTO and bars patentability.
A word of advice…
Before you THINK about selling your product or even disclosing the ideas of your invention to a third party who you believe can help you produce or market your idea, schedule a consultation with a patent attorney. These initial meetings do not cost much, and in some cases, may even be free. We suggest that you explain the details of your invention, but also talk to your attorney about your plans, goals and any desires you have to bring the product to market BEFORE you file for a patent.
Your attorney will be able to talk through all of your options and walk you through the pros and cons of each choice that you will be faced with. Having this conversation before you publicly put your invention out there can help you to avoid mistakes that may prevent you from getting a patent and ultimately profiting from your idea down the road.
Need help getting started?
Our patent attorneys are available to discuss your needs and help you develop a strategy that will not jeopardize your ability or right to patent your product or invention. If you’d like to schedule a consultation, simply call (888) 666-0062. We can help inventors anywhere in the United States.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.