Demystifying the Patent Process: Resources to Support Innovation
Protecting your intellectual property is a critical part of protecting your invention
The process of inventing something starts with a creative spark, a surge of excitement and a sense of wonder. Then reality bites and inventors are quickly overwhelmed with the enormity of the process they have undertaken. In addition to thinking about production, distribution, inventory management, marketing and a million other details, obtaining a patent is critical.
Under U.S. law, a patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is defined as a product or process that provides a new way of doing something or offers a new technical solution to a problem. To get a patent, technical information about the invention is disclosed to the public in a patent application.
Many inventors find the process of obtaining a patent intimidating. But for inventors in and around Colorado, there are a variety of resources to support innovation.
For the past five years, Denver has been home to a regional office for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The ability to present and defend your patent locally saves (Colorado) inventors time and money, and it has dramatically shortened the time it takes to obtain a patent.
The USPTO has also created some new resources available on its website. Guides are available for everything from navigating the patent process to avoiding scams, and there are monthly, free events where a USPTO representative takes questions and provides advice as part of the U.S. Small Business Administration's ‘Federal Government Tuesdays’ program.
While inventors are not required to contract with an attorney to navigate the patent process, working with a qualified intellectual property attorney can end up saving the inventor a significant amount of time and can make the patent process proceed quickly and smoothly.
If you’ve poured all your financial resources into your invention and simply can’t shell out for an attorney, there are a variety of pro bono resources available. In fact, most Am Law 100 firms – the biggest firms in the U.S. – commit around 3% of their attorneys’ time for taking on pro bono (non-paying) work. The Denver Bar Association provides information about navigating the process.
Colorado has one of the nation’s most robust startup communities. Organization’s like Colorado Startups help connect inventors to one another. Sharing stories and key learnings about the patent process can help applicants avoid common mistakes and get prepared to successfully navigate the process.
Online forums, Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups provide instant access to an ongoing dialog and there are frequent in-person meetings.
Protecting your intellectual property is a critical part of protecting your invention. Luckily for Colorado entrepreneurs and innovators, navigating the patent process is now easier than ever.
This is part two of a three-part series on patents and inventions in Colorado. For part one, click here.