Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Or in patent terms: the patent application or the investors? I see lots of start-ups struggling with this. A patent application costs money and that is what many start-ups don't have. An investor can help them with this, but investors prefer to get involved once a patent application has been filed. In this blog I give start-ups with a limited budget some valuable tips on how to nevertheless set the patent application in motion.
TIP 1 Do your own novelty search.
You can start by doing a novelty search yourself. Google and patent databases contain a wealth of information and publications. Find out what the differences are between your innovation and what already exists. Make an accurate comparison of this. Then discuss the results with your patent attorney.
TIP 2 Make a good description of the invention.
You can make a detailed description of the invention yourself. Mention the advantages of the invention and the possible variations on it. Can the innovation be used more widely? What else can you do with it? What would happen if it were to be made of a different type of material? Where can you create variation points? This description is a useful starting point for me to start drafting the patent application.
TIP 3 Submit a provisional patent application.
For start-ups with a limited budget it can be a financial and strategic advantage to start with a provisional patent application. By doing so you postpone the official filing and search costs. One disadvantage is that you miss the feedback from the searcher, but with a provisional patent application you do have a year to look for investors.
TIP 4 Submit an international PCT application.
The PCT route is an opportunity to obtain international protection for your invention. This will postpone the costs of parallel country procedures by another eighteen months. In other words: it gives you even more time to work on your invention and to find investors or (large) partners. With the PCT application all options remain open. Combined with the advantages of the provisional patent application you will have 2.5 years to decide for which countries the patent should apply. After that time, you should be selective when it comes to the choice of countries for the patent granting procedures. Where are your competitors located, where is your market? Above all, don't forget to ask investors and partners for their opinion.
I wouldn't be a good patent attorney if I didn't point out a disclaimer. If you want to save money as a start-up, always opt for a balance between quality and cost-effectiveness and together with your patent attorney make strategic choices about what you want to do yourself and what you want others to do. The chance of optimum protection is of course greatest if your EP&C patent attorney is given the time to take an in-depth look at your invention. We can also introduce changes to the application, if necessary, based on the searcher's feedback, in order to get a positive opinion from the official body at an early stage, which is something investors are really keen on! If you would like some advice on the costs of your patent application, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I would be pleased to help you. You can also chat with me or one of my colleagues on working days between 14:00 and 17:00. The chat function will open automatically when you go to www.epc.nl. We will be there to answer your questions.