Manual Thinking About Invention Patenting (But Don’t Think Too Long!)

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When you are moving from idea to invention to patent, regardless of how or why you find yourself stuck in the idea phase, the first order of business to get the ball rolling. You need momentum. By now everyone has undoubtedly seen the late-night television commercials, and the online ads offering to help you patent an invention idea. The idea is the first critical step toward being able to obtain a patent, and in my experience many inventors think they only have an idea and are not yet at the invention stage when, in fact, they really do have an invention that could be protected.

The first lesson today is this: Sometimes achieving an invention is not as difficult to achieve as you may believe. Indeed, frequently it is the person who has created something quite interesting and innovative that believes their work is not inventive when it truly is unique. So, for some humility is not a problem, and will become upset to learn or hear that what they are working on or have come up with is not particularly new or nonobvious.

Think about it. What task in your personal life have you been most avoiding? The more you avoid that task the harder it becomes to confront the task until ultimately it becomes crippling.


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But then when you do finally dive in, how often was the task far less onerous than you thought it would be? And when you get a head of steam tasks have a way of getting accomplished and goals have a way of getting reached. The worst thing you can ever do is sit there at your computer, or at your work bench, or at the table with a pencil and piece of paper and accomplish nothing.

The Best Way To Protect Your Invention? Try Stealing It From Yourself

Accomplishing nothing will only beget further accomplishing of nothing. In other words — staring at a blank screen is only going to beget further staring at said blank screen. And that is not a creative place, or state of mind. In order to get that ball rolling what you need is a strategy to help you move past the idea and learn to describe your idea with enough specifics so that it no longer is what the law would call a merely an idea. Here is an example. An idea is this: I want to catch mice. It is critical for inventors to document and expand upon any idea.

Sure, that can and does happen from time to time. Creation is a funny thing, it can happen suddenly, and it can also happen accidentally, as in the case of the invention of penicillin and the microwave, for example.

Patent an Idea - How to get a patent without spending a lot of money

Creation can also come deliberately step by step. That is why you absolutely, positively must document everything you do, both successes and failures. As you work on your idea, if you continually add more details you will at some point cross over the idea invention boundary and be squarely on the invention side of the line, which is the goal.

What you want to do is explain the idea, as well as any and all aspects and alternatives associated with your idea. This is when you will approach the point where it becomes specific enough for it to be considered an invention.

Turning Ideas Into a Product

To put it into a bit more legalese, in order to obtain protection for what you are calling an idea , it must mature into an invention first. This means that you need to be able to explain to others of relevant skill how to make and use the invention so that they could replicate the invention after simply reading your description of the invention in a patent application. A patent application does not need to provide blue-print level detail, but rather it must teach those who have skill in the area you are innovating what they need to know to be able to carry out the invention.

Unfortunately, if you are stuck at the idea stage of the invention process and you find yourself unable to even inch forward with any kind of structure or substance, you are not ready to file a patent application. Many companies do not accept the submission of ideas, because ideas are not legally protected and, as such, are free to be taken by others.

Some companies that do accept idea submissions will tell you that they reserve the right to use whatever you submit without compensation, so be very careful if you are submitting ideas yourself and not engaging the assistance of a licensing expert. But for those looking for action items, here are 7 concrete steps you can take to help you get from your idea, to an invention worth patenting.

You also do not need to have a prototype, but you will need to be able to describe the invention with enough detail and precision, providing sketches showing your inventive contribution. Having 3D renderings is also the best and most economical way to have something that is eye catching to show to those who are interested in your project, whether it be those who might fund the project or those who might be interested in licensing or acquiring your rights.

2. Work with an inventor coach

Another thing you could consider is working with an Inventor Coach. While this provision harmonizes U. For example, K. However, unlike many patent law firms across the country, to help defray the added cost, K. The court awarded him million dollars, but the company appealed and they settled for 9 million. Still, a lot more than the Nobel prize amount.

Or if you do invent something you may as well leave the company and take the invention with you in secret to start up on your own. And a copy of our calendar, Springtime in Lompoc.

2. Work with an inventor coach

Dupont used to have a policy that once the development costs were paid the inventor got a share of the profits. The inventor of the sulfonyl urea herbicides did pretty well. Good post, setting out at a high level some of the pros and cons of this. As written it was aminly about industry. Universities would be wise to incentivise their employees accordingly….

Most universities have established percentages going back to the inventors I think it varies from the single digits to the teens. This sort of structure is pretty standard. Depending upon the state or university, inventors can receive a portion of the proceeds royalties from the out-licensing of the patent.

Students are either kept in the dark about the payment system or too afraid to stand up for themselves. Guys… as far as who gets to be on the inventor list — there are actual legal definitions there and having people just added can easily invalidate patent in court, if push comes to show. Interesting issue however is the inventive or not role of the biologist that identified the target, but that usually happens outside of the pharma company anyways….

Interesting concept. What happens when a patent reaches the international phase? It takes a team. The correct compensation is equity in the venture. The merchant sailors circumnavigating the globe figured that out hundreds of years ago. Problem is in a big company, your equity is such a small fraction of the total venture it is not tied to your efforts. In a small company, you sink or swim together, and even the interns can make a big impact.

Pretty simple really. I also have some crisp dollar bills with some kind of stamp notary? What you got depended on the lawyer. About 25 years later, one of those patents got me a nice retainer from a law firm. I signed away my rights when I joined the company. I think I prefered it that way. Especially when you consider that some members of the team are commodities, completely replaceable or even loseable without any negative impact, or perhaps even with a positive impact.

At Abbott pre-AbbVie they would give us a dollar bill when we got a patent. This is anonymous 23 again. Now that I think of it, the dollar bill was when we signed the patent. At NIH intramural inventors get a cut of royalties, and the lab gets some extra funding. The biggest example was the HIV blood test developed by Gallo et al in the s.

It brought in millions after it was licensed. The HPV vaccine is a more recent example. I know of a place where the Head of Chemistry gets on each patent as an inventor as a privilege of his position. In Sandoz—when it had both NJ and Basle research stations—that meant that researchers in NJ would go to lunch and draw all over the tableclothes like a bunch of chemists swapping ideas. But in Basle, researchers would lock their notebooks in their desks, go to the cafeteria and chat a bout sports. Because it was important to be the sole inventor on a lucrative patent, scientists were disinclined to share ideas.


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  • Much more innovation came out of NJ than out of Basle. I presume the story was the same at Roche, Ciba, etc.

    I work in industry, not pharma though. We get small bonuses at the time of filing, not when the patent issues. Just thinking of all those BS genomics and bioinformatics patents issued in the early s….