*Not legal advice.
Although you do not need an attorney to file a patent, there are several reasons why it would be in your best interest to find one. Since most entrepreneurs have a limited budget, your startup’s intellectual property is very important for its overall success. Moreover, if you cut too many corners in the beginning, it could affect your business negatively.
Just remember that a good patent lawyer knows about your budget challenges and will do his best to charge fairly. Regardless of whether a patent application is non-provisional or provisional, you can write and submit it for yourself.
Disregarding the difficulty of filing your application properly at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the bigger issue is whether you can pen an application that meets the numerous statutes, case laws, and rules that are part of patent law.
This area of law is neither user-friendly nor conducive to Do-It-Yourself people.
Filing provisional or non-provisional patents
A provisional application acts as a placeholder at the USPTO. Although an examiner does not review it, it can help to secure a few benefits under patent law. A structure is not required for a provisional application.
On the other hand, a non-provisional application, which you must file within a year of filing the provisional will be reviewed by an examiner, resulting in issued patents. If you are not going to work with a lawyer, you should just file for a provisional patent. However, the dangers of working with an attorney include:
- Failure to monitor the one-year period by which the non-provisional must be filed or not giving the attorney enough time to draft the non-provisional patent before the deadline.
- Not providing sufficient disclosure of your creation to allow usage of the provisional filing date to benefit the non-provisional.
- Seeking angel funds but presenting a weak provisional during due diligence.
- Relying on the filing of your provisional to protect your rights and disclosing other improvements and inventions in public afterwards.
- Revealing too much, which includes multiple inventions that are not related to your primary invention or data that is not relevant to your provisional application.
- Making a wrong statement: characterizing previous inventions of others incorrectly
How to keep the cost down
There are plenty of opportunities to work with an attorney even if your budget is limited. For instance, you should consider hiring an attorney who offers startup packages. Although shopping for the right fit is not fun, it is quite important for your budget as well as the long-term relationship required for a patent process.
You should create a ‘white paper’ that describes your creation in significant detail if you want to keep your expenses down. Just make sure that you include drawings, charts, pictures, and anything else that will guide the attorney during the process of application. There is no magic number but a white paper will enable you to capture all your ideas in one place and guide your attorney in the preparation of a budget-driven application.
A provisional application is basically a white paper with a few tweaks. Because many lawyers charge per hour, you should limit any new ideas that you throw at your lawyer when he is drafting your application. You should provide relevant information but avoid partially written white papers and disorganized meetings that will waste time.
More questions can also lead to higher costs and differences about what your budget covers. Maintain your focus and avoid piecemeal disclosures. According to the owner of Rogers DVS, you need to hire an attorney if you want to file a non-provisional patent.