Below is an article by infoTECH entitled “Five Tips on How to Get Your Patents Approved”
Five Tips on How to Get Your Patents Approved
By: Judd Hollas, infoTECH Contributor
Sep 15, 2014
Recent changes in U.S. patent laws stemming from the America Invents Act have made the filing process for a patent a much more competitive and challenging process for the average American inventor. Detractors of these changes claim that they stifle innovation and threaten individual inventors to claim and monetize their inventions, while proponents argue that the new patent laws will strengthen patents due to a more extensive review process.
Regardless of the new patent laws, filing for a patent is no simple task and is certainly not to be taken lightly. Inventors can spend hundreds of hours and many sleepless nights to be certain that they are as thorough, accurate, and correct as they could possibly be. For many inventors, however, the process is absolutely worth it.
This past July, the team here at EquityNet was thrilled to learn that we were granted our fourth and fifth crowdfunding patents, so we’ve become familiar with the patent application process. If you have considered filing for a patent, here are five tips on how to get yours approved.
1. Know what can be patented.
Patents don’t protect ideas; rather, they protect inventions that fall into five categories:
- A process or method for performing a function or achieving a result such as a new method for producing steel
- A machine that performs a function or achieves a result like an automobile
- An article of manufacture such as a hand tool either made by hand or machine
- A composition of matter such as a newly synthesized chemical compound
- An improvement of any of the abovementioned items.
Furthermore, a patent must be novel, have utility, and must not be obvious. For an invention to be considered novel, it must never have been made public in any way, even outside the U.S. Also, should you publicly disclose your invention, you must file your application within one year after doing so. For it to have utility, it must physically accomplish something. An invention is considered non-obvious if it would not be obvious to experts who operate in the field you plan for the invention to operate.
2. Search for prior art.
Prior art refers to any publicly available information that could be relevant to a patent’s claim of originality. Prior art can be, but is not limited to, prior patents or applications, news or journal articles, college theses, web pages, or public knowledge of a product. Inventors in the U.S. aren’t required to conduct a search for prior art; however, they do have a duty of disclosure, meaning that they must submit all relevant prior art that they are aware of the United States Patent and Trademark office (USPTO). Failure to do so could render a patent invalid.
Even though you’re not required to conduct your own search for prior art, it’s still important to do so. Patent examiners often conduct their own searches; however, they are often limited due to time constraints and may miss relevant prior art.
The most common reason a patent is deemed invalid is that the inventor submitted little to no relevant prior art to the USPTO. It’s uncommon that an invention does not have any sort of predecessor, especially in software and other tech related industries. If your patent is granted, but you or a patent officer missed any relevant prior art, it could haunt you when you go to enforce your patent against infringers. The infringer’s attorney will likely use that prior art against you.