Tips about Patents for New Inventors
It all takes money! Don't waste it!
A September 3, 1997 Orange County Register article tells us that only 3% of issued patents ever makes any money for the inventor. And only 10% ever make it to the market at all! Keep in mind that currently applying for a US Utility Patent costs $395. If it is granted, you get to pay a $600 issuance fee. 3.5 years after the $600, you get to pay another $525 as a maintenance fee, at 7.5 years another $1,050 and at 11 years another $1,580 final maintenance fee. This total is $4,150 and that does not even count one cent to a Patent attorney - count on another $2,000 to $20,000 spent with those guys. Whew!!
We obviously, don't always succeed in raising money for our crazy inventions. I used to apply for a patent for my inventions first, then with that protection, try to raise money to get something built. That can be a big waste of money! Nowadays, I prefer to have potential investors sign a reasonably worded Confidential Disclosure document (not a lot of Lawyer obfuscation crap) and later on, apply for patents after a new machine is prototyped and running. Going through the process of actually building something and making it work always changes one's initial mental concepts fairly drastically anyway! You end up with a better, more relevant patent, too.
The cheap safe start!
The patent office has had their $10 Document Disclosure plan available for decades. You merely sent in two copies of the description and sketches of your latest invention idea. The patent office stamps a number on both sets, returns one set to you and keeps the other for exactly for two years. After two years they toss it. If you file for a patent within the two years, you can refer to that document in any patent application you make. The idea was you can establish an officially recognized conception date for the invention when you do file your patent.
Complicated fights to determine the real first inventor !
Up until the last couple of years America's patent system recognized the actual first inventor only - not necessarily the first person to file a patent for a new invention. This meant a lot of money wasted on lawyers because the inventor who first filed a patent (who probably assumed it was his original idea) could be sued because some one else claims to really have invented the same idea earlier - even though they didn't file for a patent right away. It is then up to the courts to decide which party was the real first inventor - terrific for the greedy attorneys!
Harmonization with the rest of the world!
The new system is called harmonization and has the USA finally handling inventions the way most of the rest of the world does it. Namely, he who files first is the official first inventor. To me it simplifies everything. No more bothering with detailed inventor log books, no more signing and witnessing. AND no longer can you get into those expensive "first to invent" squabbles. My serious inventor friends are all up in arms over harmonization. I see words in print like insidious, catastrophic, unfair, devastating, etc. These are people who are interested in promoting CHANGE (for their ideas only?), but at the same time are being resistant to change (mostly old timers)! I 'm sorry guys, but I love simplification. I ts like the flat tax proposals. Heck, even though the flat tax proponents claim we would all end up paying LESS taxes, I'd take flat taxes even if it cost me thousands of dollars more a year.
To fill in a postcard once a year would be wonderful! No more filling out inane tax forms; tracking every single business expense; hassling with depreciation; no writing down my car mileage every time I drive it somewhere on business; no trips to the tax preparer and no expense for the tax preparer. The time for useful creativity gained every year would be fantastic! MMMM! Wonder how much faster we would progress technology-wise with everyone in the USA freed up that way! Star Trek - here we come!
You may wonder how unfair this would be to all the IRS employees, if the country indeed goes to a flat tax on a postcard. Those unfortunate people would not be needed anymore and would lose their jobs! How about if they figure out the same thing all the tobacco growers with any brains will have to - after nobody wants their products anymore. Plant something else on the land, dummies! The US government does NOT owe tobacco growers, nor anybody else a living! If you are smart enough to be an IRS worker bee that (to me) presumes a certain high skill with numbers - go find a numbers job or be an entrepreneur and create your own "job". It's fun! As far as all the lawyers who live off tax problems, they can FOAD, they don't count!
The jokes about them have a sound basis!
While I'm off on tangents, you may have noticed my continuous snide remarks about lawyers here and there. I have a simple test for proving attorneys in general are just greedy money grabbers. We all hear of attorneys winning multimillion lawsuit for clients who were really wrecked up in a car accident. Have you ever heard of even one attorney also feeling so sorry for that person that they gave back their 30 or 40% contingency fee to help that same poor messed up soul. Keep in mind how they plead to the juries about how much the poor soul is suffering and will be suffering. They want the jury people to care and award money for this suffering. They DO NOT CARE about the person's suffering, but they sure beseech the jury to care about it - all they want is the money! Anyway, if just one attorney ever turns his contingency loot back to the client to help that person out in his/her future misery, I'll apologize to the world - won't ever happen!
The evil big companies!
Many small inventors are also whining that with harmonization that the big companies will ruin them by spending tons of money just filing patents right and left the instant they have an inkling of a good idea. That is ridiculous! Ever work for a BIG company? That word bureaucratic = too many precautious procedures, meetings and paperwork to accomplish anything really FAST! Personally, I don't believe the big companies stay up nights trying to come up with ways to steal from small inventors. We are mostly irrelevant to them. It is more driven by their worries about staying competitive in the growing global marketplaces.
The safer way to start protecting your invention!
The US patent office has tried to address this exact big business swamping issue by creating PROVISIONAL PATENTS. You can prepare these yourself and they only cost $75 plus your effort. (The typical attorney will charge you $750 to do it all for you.) It gives you a more formal start than the $10 Document Disclosure. If you think it is still unfair, because you are too poor to justify spending $75, then you don't believe in your idea very much.
Well, this page became more of a soap box than tips, but I'm leaving it in because it feels right. (AND why does the media and Congress get in a tiff over the slight possibility one single astronaut might die in the MIR? If they had any sense of priorities, they would spend their time much more deeply concerned with the 40,000 who die every year on our highways - incomprehensible set of backward priorities!) Oooops, I just did it again.
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