Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Start a Business or Bust

A significant fraction of inventors fail themselves long before they seek advice regarding protecting their ideas.  More specifically, these inventors show up with no business plan and, often, no plan to start a business.  Instead, they believe that someone else will launch their idea for them.  Real life does not work that way.

For one thing, no one has as much confidence in your idea as you do.  These others were not present at its conception and did not participate in that necessity-to-invention transformation that gripped you.  Nor can they see all of the possibilities for it that you can.  Moreover, from their perspective they are being asked to take all of the risk, but share the reward. 

Instead of that approach, these inventors should graduate from mere inventor to Entrepreneur (caps intentional).  When you show up with prototypes and a business plan, others will take you more seriously.  Also, if you are actually out in your market, generating revenue, and honing your marketing plan you might find that you don’t need nearly as much help as you initially feared. 

That is not to say that your path will be easy or that you won’t need to make a significant investment.  But, there is no substitute for success.  And even a bit of success on your own will help convince others to assume some of the (now reduced) risk in return for a share of the potential rewards.

Of course you will want to have an Intellectual Property plan in place before you begin your marketing and sales activities.  The reason (as this blog as bemoaned repeatedly) is that the America Invents Act probably eliminated the one-year grace period for filing a patent application following an offer for sale of a product/service incorporating an invention.

We at the Villhard Patent Group would be happy to discuss your intellectual property plan with you.  For more information about us, see www.villhardpatents.com or contact us at contact@villhardpatents.com or 512-897-0399.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Buyer Beware: Form Preparation Companies and So-Called Patent “Applications”

An entrepreneur recently approached me with a patent application that was "prepared" by an online form-preparation company.  It was all that we could do to rescue the invention from that "application."  One thing is nearly certain with that application, the claims in any patent issuing from it will be worth only a fraction of the potential the idea holds.  

Please know that “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) applies to the preparation of a patent application.  For a mere $2500 this client bought the privilege of filling out a form and having the form company “mechanically’ file it.  To find out what he bought I recently perused some typical form company websites.  I found was that for several thousand dollars an entrepreneur can get an Attorney "consultation," several pages of "professional" drawings, several pages of specification, a fixed (and low) number of claims, and a fixed number of drafts.  

In comparison, a competent Patent Attorney will not only consult with you, they will pour their talent into your application.  They will also prepare the number of drawings that it takes to illustrate your idea: not stop at some arbitrary number.  Similarly, they will draft the specification until it adequately discloses the idea, not stopping at some arbitrary number.  Finally, they will prepare a full set of claims (20 total) allowed by the Patent Office standard filing fees unless you are willing to pay the Patent Office for more.

So again, caveat emptor.  

We at the Villhard Patent Group would be glad to discuss your situation with you.  For more information about us, see www.villhardpatents.com or contact us at contact@villhardpatents.com or (512) 897-0399.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Surprise, Surprise More IP Bills For You

A new client complained to me that their previous IP (Intellectual Property) Attorney surprised them with legal expenses incurred well after the filing of their patent and trademark applications.  So we thought a few words were in order about what follow-on legal fees you can expect in the course of pursuing IP protection.

First, the initial fees that you encounter upon filing an application usually cover just the preparation and filing of the application.  In the case of trademark applications, these might be the only expenses you incur if the application registers without incident.  However, if it s rejected, you can expect that the Attorney will require more fees to prepare a response to the rejection.  In some cases, a rejection might also necessitate additional Trademark Office fees.  In addition, if your application was an “intent to use” (ITU) application, you can expect to pay a governmental fee in order to file a “statement of use” and therefore obtain registration.  Once registered, you will also need to renew your registration several years after registration and will incur fees in doing so.  

Patent applications typically have quite a few more follow-on fees.  More particularly, the likelihood and number of rejections and is higher for patent applications.  The government also charges fees if your application is allowed and maintenance fees every four years thereafter.  Your IP Attorney will need to expend time handling these situations for you and will expect to be paid accordingly.

In closing, the fees listed here are just a sampling of those that you can expect post-filing.  But, keep in mind that most technology-based companies possess IP assets that need protection and that usually warrants a corresponding investment.

We at the Villhard Patent Group strive to educate our clients and prospective clients and hope that this article was useful to you.  In the meantime, we would be happy to discuss your IP situation with you.  For more information about us see www.villhardpatents.com or contact us at contact@villhardpatents.com or (512) 897-0399.