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Your Business First


Check, check and double check before applying for a patent

Check-check-double-check-patent.jpgAlthough you will be itching to get official protection for your invention in the form of a patent, it is always good not to rush into things.

By carefully thinking through a number of important aspects relating to patents first, you can save yourself a great deal of time and money. As a patent provides legal protection, a patent application is subject to certain rules. Here is my Top 3 of topics you should pay attention to before you apply for a patent.

1. My invention is still secret

The law is very strict on this. Your invention has to be absolutely secret. That is the only way to fulfil the legal requirement that an invention has to be novel in order to qualify for a patent. As soon as an invention has been seen anywhere, it no longer qualifies for a patent. This goes way beyond a folder, a presentation, an exhibition, a magazine or the Internet, as you are also not allowed to talk about it with a colleague, an acquaintance or a family member, for example. That is because if someone is able to prove that you did, your invention will no longer be novel. There is, however, one exception to this. You are allowed to discuss it with a patent attorney, as he has a legal obligation to observe secrecy.

2. I am able to explain which technical problem my invention solves

The aim of a patent is to protect a technical invention. In a patent application you have to be able to explain clearly what technical problem the invention solves. You do this by first of all looking at what already exists in the particular field of your invention. Next you describe the disadvantage of that. That is how you arrive at the solution of the technical problem, because it involves nothing more or less than removing that disadvantage.

If your invention does not involve a technical improvement but is based, for example, on a unique, beautiful design, a design right will offer a more adequate form of protection than a patent.

3. My invention works

It is important that your invention works, which means that you will need to demonstrate this. You can prove that it works using drawings, test results or a prototype, for example. The most important thing here is that you record the basic principle of your invention. Once this underlying basic idea has been recorded, you can always build on it or make variations on it.