Q. Why do I need a patent?
A. There are many reasons inventors and businesses obtain patents. One reason is there may be a marketing benefit to being able to say the product is patented. At its core, however, what a patent can do is allow you to prevent others from entering your market. The two most common types of patents are utility patents and design patents. In general terms, a design patent protects the way an article looks and a utility patent protects the way an article is used and works.
Q. Do I need a working prototype?
A. No. It is not necessary to have a prototype in order to file an application. All that is required is the ability to explain your idea in a manner that someone can read your patent application and understand your idea and how to practice your idea.
Q. What does it cost to get a patent?
A. There is a wide range of costs associated with prosecuting or obtaining a utility patent, with the majority of the cost being associated with the professional fees. However, it is a very good idea to get professional assistance in obtaining your patent. The patent process is a complicated process and it will save you time and money if you start with professional assistance when protecting your idea. Generally, a patent for a simple mechanical invention will cost a minimum of $10,000. The maximum cost can vary greatly depending on the protection scope desired and the number of communications between the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and us, your legal counsel. However, an average patent cost for a simple mechanical invention is between $10,000 to $15,000 from filing to issuance. There are additional costs called maintenance fees that occur at predetermined intervals after the patent is issued. Additionally, if patent protection in foreign countries is desired, the costs can increase significantly.
Q. How does the process work for getting a patent?
A. The first step is the drafting of the patent application. We help guide you through this process to make sure the application is filed correctly and that the language and information is written with the most likelihood of getting approved.
We then file the patent on your behalf with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The next step is the USPTO examination of the patent application. We are the contact point for the patent examiner. We respond to any objections or rejections made by the examiner. These interactions are called “Office Actions (OAs).” When hiring a patent attorney, it’s important to review their track record with OAs because the more OAs, the more expensive the patent will be. Ference & Associates has an outstandingly low OA record in many industry categories, which makes our patent prosecution cost-effective for our clients. Additionally, we are willing to work on a fixed fee basis, which makes the patent costs somewhat predictable and keeps the costs from escalating to large amounts very quickly.
Once the objections or rejections have been adequately addressed by the USPTO, the patent is granted.
Q. How long does it take to get a patent?
A. A design patent will typically take between one and two years to obtain. A utility patent is a longer process, taking between one and five years.
Q. What rights do I have once I have an issued patent?
A. Once your patent has been issued, you as the owner have the right to sue any infringement on the patent. In other words, if someone else uses, makes, or sells your invention without your consent you are able to sue them.
Q. Should I use a patent attorney to help get a patent?
A. Nothing prevents an inventor from preparing a patent application without a lawyer. Despite the obvious cost savings, many inventors prefer to use a patent attorney to prepare, file, and prosecute their patent applications. Patent law is a highly technical legal field about highly technical subjects. Even if your invention is technically simple, writing a patent yourself can be very risky. There are dozens of omissions or oversights that can dramatically limit what you can patent.
Q. Does Ference & Associates help with marketing?
A. No. We are your legal resource and counsel but we do not offer marketing resources. We have a few agencies we work with and would be more than happy to provide a referral.
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