Obtaining a patent for an invention is a crucial step in protecting intellectual property and gaining a competitive edge in the market. Determining the right time to start working on a patent application can significantly impact the success and effectiveness of the process.
A company should start working on a patent application early in the invention process to establish priority, protect the intellectual property in question and strategically plan its portfolio.
Early in the invention process
It is generally advisable for a company to start working on a patent application as early as possible in the invention process. The patent system operates on a first-to-file basis, which means that the first party to file a patent application is typically granted priority rights. By starting the patent application process early, a company can establish its priority over others who may develop similar inventions later.
During the early stages of the invention process, companies may share confidential information with potential partners, investors or employees. Without patent protection, this information may be at risk of being copied or used by others without permission. Filing a patent application early can help safeguard the company’s intellectual property rights and serve as evidence of the invention’s originality.
Initiating the patent application process early allows companies to strategically plan their intellectual property portfolios. It gives them time to conduct thorough prior art searches, assess the patentability of an invention and evaluate the market potential. This information is valuable in making informed decisions about the commercialization and licensing of the new invention in question.
Before any public disclosure
Another critical milestone to consider when starting the patent application process is public disclosure of the invention. Public disclosure includes any form of disclosure that makes the invention available to the public, such as publishing, presenting at conferences or offering for sale.
To obtain a patent, an invention must be novel, meaning it should not have been publicly disclosed before the filing date of the patent application. If an invention has already been publicly disclosed, it may not be eligible for patent protection. Therefore, it is essential to file a patent application before any public disclosure to preserve the novelty and ensure the invention’s eligibility for patent protection.
Seeking guidance from a patent attorney or intellectual property professional can provide valuable insights and assistance – including matters of timing – throughout the patent application process.