Have you ever had a good idea but were not sure how to
protect it? If so, then this book was written for you. It will serve as an
informative guide describing the types of intellectual property and,
more specifically, patents and the patent process. What this book
will not do is teach you how to prepare and file your own patent ap-
plication. To do so would be a mistake. After all, would you want to
risk a possible multimillion-dollar judgment based on a document
that you have written~much less a document in an area of law you
know little or nothing about? Patent law is complex and constantly
changing. In fact, it is so specialized that many attorneys cannot
practice patent law. Writing a patent application is a blend of tech-
nical and legal writing that requires an understanding of science and
the law.
By the time you have finished reading this book, you will have a
general understanding of copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets,
patents, and the patent process. In addition, defined for you are your
roles and responsibilities in the patent process when working with a
patent practitioner. First, you must realize that not all ideas qualify as
patentable subject matter. Therefore, in Chapter 1, you are presented
with a general overview of intellectual property and its importance.
In addition, this chapter helps you decide what form(s) of intellectu-
al property will protect your idea by describing the types of intellec-
tual property protection and the coverage each one offers. Chapter 2
introduces you to the types of patents. What you may not know is
that (1) there are several kinds of patents and (2) not only do they
protect specific types of inventions, but they are enforceable for dif-
ferent lengths of time. Chapter 3 introduces you to the legal defini-
tions of the invention process and its application in the United States,
which is
a first to file country. Chapter 4 stresses the importance
of documenting your ideas. Documentation is perhaps the most im-
portant thing you can do to protect your inventions before they are
patented. Chapter 5 discusses how to research your idea. Conducting
a literature search before constructing your invention will save you
much time and money in the long run. Chapter 6 teaches you how to
protect yourself from yourself. In particular, this chapter introduces
you to all the things that either you or someone else may do that
would prevent you from getting a patent. Many people have come to
me when it is too late to protect their inventions. Had they known
the information in Chapter 6, they could have protected their ideas.
Chapter 7 focuses on preparing the patent application with the help
of a patent practitioner. In particular, it is designed to help you un-
derstand the value that the patent practitioner adds and what the
patent practitioner needs to prepare a good application for you.
Chapter 8 introduces you to the patent filing and prosecution
process from the inventor's side of the desk. This chapter outlines the
various papers the inventor is required to sign when submitting a
patent application, as well as outlining the patent prosecution pro-
cess. Chapter 9 gives you some information to consider before you
decide to enter the patent process. Not all inventions should be
patented. However, patenting is the only way you will be able to ex-
clude others from making, using, selling, offering to sell, or import-
ing your invention in the United States.
This book also contains several appendices. Appendix I pro-
vides a table of resources and contact information to find the help
that you will need when you decide to protect your intellectual
property. Appendix II lists the patent and trademark depository li-
braries found throughout the United States. Appendix III provides
some important tips regarding invention development firms. Finally,
Appendix IV is a checklist of what you need to have with you before
you see your patent practitioner.
The ultimate goal of this book is to provide you with the infor-
mation you need to:
1. make a wise decision about protecting your intellectual
2. work well with your patent practitioner; and
3. obtain the best possible protection for your ideas.
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