Explore the possibilities of getting "patent pending" status for your invention.
Have you ever had an idea and thought, "I should protect this and build a business around this awesome idea!"?
You're not alone.
You won't be alone when you start down the invention path and get discouraged by all the tasks--which seem a lot more like huge obstacles--required to move your product through the patent process, the product development process, the marketing process, and more.
Five years ago, Jeff Holman, a patent attorney and general counsel for technology and e-commerce startups, put together a comprehensive workshop to help inventors and innovators get their inventions "patent pending" using the US provisional patent application process.
After holding several in-person and virtual workshops, some bootcamps, and successful 30-day challenges, it became harder to dedicate time to marketing this workshop to inventors.
It became apparent inventors often felt targeted by opportunistic attorneys just looking to "make a buck" off dreamy-eyed inventors.
So the workshop content sat on the shelf for a while. Now it's time to dust it off and make it available to everyone. For FREE.
That's right. You can access all the workshop videos and a lot of the workshop tools right here through our blog.
In this workshop, Jeff walks you through the general process for a US utility patent application, including preparation and filing of a provisional patent application.
While some of the content will be dated and might need to be updated to show new patent office tools and resources, you'll still get the foundational instruction Jeff provides developed for use with his own clients. Using this approach, tailored to specific client needs, Jeff has prepared and filed hundreds of provisional patent applications.
Here's the full outline for the DIY Patent Workshop (with links to each of the lessons).
By the end of this module, you should have a basic understanding of IP and the different types of patents. You should be able to document your invention using a standard IDF and evaluate whether your invention is patentable under the applicable tests used by the USPTO.
You're going to learn about "prior art" that prevents you from getting a patent on your invention. You'll also learn two practical approaches to performing a patent search. Lastly, learn what's required (and what's not required) for your patent drawings in a PPA. You should be able to perform your own patent search, create a search log for your invention, and draft your own simple patent drawings.
Learn everything you need to know about drafting the specification for your PPA. By the time you've mastered these concepts you can draft your own detailed description, background, brief description, and title for your own PPA.
You're getting close to "patent pending" status for your invention! Learn about typical patent strategies, foreign filing, and inventorship (this is extremely important and often misunderstood by inventors). Also, you can optionally add a few basic patent claims to your PPA.
These are the final steps to filing your provisional patent application. Learn one way to access the necessary forms, fill them out, and file them on the USPTO's EFS-Web online filing system. Once you complete these steps, your patent will be "patent pending" so you can focus on the other aspects of bringing your product to market and your dreams to life!
1. Schedule two 8-hour or four 4-hour sessions to complete the workshop
2. Use the extensive workshop materials to help you think about your invention and the patent process from a new perspective
3. Avoid getting overwhelmed with the workshop materials—skip any sections you find too difficult
4. Use the feedback opportunities at the end of each module to let us know about your progress and submit questions
5. Remember you can file your provisional patent application after completing any of the modules
Now for a little more general information about patents...
A provisional patent application (PPA) is a type of utility patent application (as opposed to design or plant patent applications). You can accurately refer to a PPA as a "provisional patent application," a "PPA," a "provisional application" or simply as a "provisional." It is not accurate to call a PPA a "patent" (because it isn't and never will be an issued patent) or a "provisional patent" (because this is only a mythological character in the lazy vocabulary of an overworked patent attorney).
In general, your PPA is not examined. Your PPA is not searched. The content of your PPA is not reviewed. Your PPA is not published. Your PPA cannot be extended or renewed beyond 1 year. But since your PPA is a legal document sitting with the federal government, there are a bunch of nuances and potential exceptions to these statements that we go over in the workshop.
You get credit for all the technical details that are fully described (and shown, if necessary) in your PPA when it is filed. You cannot amend it to add more technical information. However, you can file more than one PPA on different aspects of the same invention, then "bundle" the PPAs together into a single non-provisional patent application later on before examination.
You can seek exclusive legal rights in a non-provisional patent application based on the technical details, combinations, and permutations you describe in your PPA. Your PPA only protects you for what you include. Nothing else. Even if you thought it was logical to assume all the permutations would be covered because you mentioned one or two of them. They will not receive legal protection, unless you describe them in sufficient detail in your PPA.
Filing a PPA is usually the very first step an inventor takes to explore whether or not the invention is "a good idea." A PPA by itself cannot be used to stop infringers or copycats, but opens the door so inventors can more confidently proceed with typical business model and market validation processes, including talking to potential customers, manufacturers, distributors, and even investors.
Sometimes you hear people warn about the "pitfalls" of PPAs. Let's be clear, filing a PPA will not hurt you, as long as you include specific descriptions for the inventions (and details) you want to protect. Rather, the "pitfall" is being misinformed and thinking that you can get protection for your invention without describing it fully in your PPA.
Jeff Holman is an accomplished startup attorney.
He holds degrees in electrical engineering ('00), law ('05), and a master of business administration (MBA) ('16).
While he has worked in the past with many of the most inventive global corporations, Mr. Holman now works exclusively with startups, founders, and early-stage innovators because he loves the excitement and chaos or early- and growth-stage companies.
He founded the law firm "Intellectual Strategies" to provide a team approach legal services for startups--many startups enjoy working with multiple legal experts in a cohesive and collaborative way as they grow and face different obstacles and opportunities.
This is general information. This is not legal advice for your specific situation. This may be considered attorney advertising.
No attorney-client relationship exists, and the attorney(s) and law firm featured here do not owe you any duties without 1) a written and mutually signed legal representation engagement agreement, and 2) payment of the law firm's estimate, quote, or retainer invoice.
If you would like to establish an attorney-client relationship, you will need to reach out to the attorney and/or law firm directly for more information.
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