Month: August 2014

How to Patent Your Invention

I usually discuss the latest patents found in the news today. However, I thought it would be interesting and fun to talk about how one would go about patenting their own inventions. It is important to make sure that no one makes money by copying your invention and putting you out of business- you will need to patent it.

Patents are exclusive rights that are granted to inventors by their governments. It is a right to manufacture, sell and use the invention in question. Patents are valid for a number of years, so you will need to be very careful when applying for it.

If you make an invention and want to make sure that no one will be able to steal it and use for their own enrichment, you will need to take the following steps:

  • Make sure no similar invention has been patented. In order to do this, you will need to study a great deal of public records and patents. This is a very complicated and time-consuming process. If you can afford it, you should hire a specialized patent attorney to do this research. A professional will know where and how to look. They will also understand whether the differences between your invention and the one that has already been registered are sufficient to get yours patented.
  • File a provisional patent application. This will protect your rights during the period of time while you gather the funds or develop your idea further. Please note that you must actually have an invention you want to patent in order to get your intellectual property protected. A mere idea of an invention is not patentable. A provisional application is valid for 12 months.
  • File a non-provisional application. It is possible to convert a provisional application into a non-provisional one. However, it will be more efficient to file two separate applications. This will allow you to extend the period of time your invention will be protected before you manage to patent it properly. It will be best to employ the services of a specialized attorney to help you with drafting and filing the application. Please note that a non-provisional application must include specific drawings and meet other format requirements set by the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).
  • Pay the fees. USPTO charges certain fees for all non-electronic applications. You will need to consult their current fee schedule in order to know how much money you will need to pay. The amount will vary depending on the size of your organization and the number of claims. The fees are non-refundable. If you are granted your patent, you will need to pay an additional fee.
  • Be patient. As the number of applications is huge, it may take an examiner one or even two years to reach your application. If it gets rejected, you will be able to amend it before the final decision is made.

Girl Scouts Supporting Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Girl Scouts have always been known for their support of education for young women, and they have long been the go-to organization to teach leadership skills to girls. Now, they are taking it a step further by teaching girls the ins and outs of intellectual property, patents, innovation, and entrepreneurship with their new “intellectual property” patch curriculum.

Girl Scouts have the opportunity to earn patches for various achievements. For example, there are patches for volunteering, tutoring, first aid training, financial education, sewing, cooking, gardening, leadership, and so many other areas. Girls will learn about business and how to turn ideas into profitable companies through the intellectual property curriculum. They will have to learn the basics of patent laws as well as the differences between copyrights, trademarks, and patents in order to earn the badges for the program.

This is a big step for the Girl Scouts. Many have praised them for empowering women and teaching them to be independent, but they have also been harshly criticized in the past for catering too much to traditional gender roles. By teaching girls from a young age the importance of following through with ideas and protecting their rights to their ideas, they will be taking a giant leap towards truly helping women succeed in the business world.

The program will probably go through some changes as they try it out, and some are already saying that Girl Scouts are too young to understand the nitty gritty details of patents – but I say it’s awesome. I think we are never too young to understand how innovation shapes the world and how we can each individually be a part of it. I applaud the Girl Scouts and hope that many girls take advantage of this program.