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There is no such thing as an entirely free patent. However, there are a few tricks that you should know that just might give you a leg up when trying to protect your idea.
- In the United States there are two different types of patent applications that protect something with a function (I guess you could argue three if you include plant patents). They include the provisional patent application and the utility patent application. The utility patent application is the patent application which you read about all the time, which is examined, and may one day become an issued patent. However, the one that you want is the provisional patent application. You see, the utility patent application has many formal requirements which are hard to write and which you should use a patent attorney to write. However, the provisional patent application only has one requirement – Enablement.
- So what is enablement? Imagine yourself sitting in front of your workbench or computer creating your invention. Now imagine some ne else with the same skills as your self. If you can write down on a paper all the information, words and drawings, that, other person would need in order to be able to sit down at your workbench and create your invention then you have created a document that passes the test for enablement. If you would like to see the details as laid out by the US patent office then go here: http://www.uspto.gov/patents/resources/types/provapp.jsp
- So what do you do with such a document once you have created it? You file it with the patent office. So how do you do that? Well the easiest way is to go to the patent office, get the forms from them, fill them out, pay them and hand the form through the window. But you might be a little ways away from the patent office in which case I strongly suggest you use the EFS system. http://www.uspto.gov/patents/process/file/efs/guidance/ and if you can’t figure that out, then put all the forms together and send it in via regular mail to Commissioner for Patents, P. O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450
- What you created is a provisional patent application. It will give you priority for one year. However, fair warning, this patent application must be upgraded to a full utility patent application or a PCT (patent cooperation treaty patent application ) within one year and writing an Utility patent application is not an instantaneous process so give us a call as early as you can so we can help you preserve your rights in and to your invention.