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Best patent strategies and personal experience for patenting Internet Tech, as the little guy?

I'm a consultant that works in one of the tech hubs. I've provided consulting advice for various company sizes and dot coms. I have several years experience in my space and am known for creating products that have helped businesses close multimillion dollar deals.

I am currently between jobs and am a cashed strapped but will come into a new flow of cash soon. I am also planning on releasing my product very soon. The products have patent pending technology.

A) Should I release the MVP with patent-pending technology or without?
B) What if I use provisional patent pending application - should I still release then?
C) What approach would you take to secure your patent ideas?
D) What strategies have you used in the past? Can you offer any other or personal experiences?
E) How can I save on costs in filing patents while maintaining a quality application?

Some of the big companies are gaining ground on this space, but their patents in my opinion are still a bit off - at least from what I am seeing in the market.

Below are a few strategies that I'm aware.
1. Create several patents around the same idea to create a table with several legs of patent protection for lack of a better analogy. This was you improve odds of getting one patent or more than one, and secure more intellectual property around your space.

2. Complete provisional applications first (this gives you up to 1 year to complete patent application and still keep provision date), while you [and possibly an attorney] review the patent and prepare to file the application.

3. Use NoLo guides and try your best to complete the patent yourself, then have an attorney review once you have done a bunch of legwork on your own patent application. Offer up legal research or any other way you can help. Maybe even get an assistant to help you start up the process.

4. Use one of the latest patent-as-a-service firms in the market space. Some of them charge $1,000, give you support and review, and help with templates and more. I was thinking of doing NoLo, research, this option, then presenting to another attorney for overall review. To save on costs.

12 Replies

William Agush
1
0
William Agush Advisor
Founder and CEO at Shuttersong Incorporated
Unless someone here is a patent attorney, all of these questions are best answered by one - my experience is each situation and application is different. You also have no idea what is ahead of you in the patent queue that hasn't been published. Regardless it's worth investing is a professional review of the prior art.
Justin Lokitz
2
0
Justin Lokitz Entrepreneur
Author, Professional Speaker, and Strategy Guru harnessing opportunity from uncertainty to Design Better Businesses
The bigger question I would have is this: what if you didn't spend any time on patents at all and instead designed something that people really want? Yes, patents are a nice thing to have. And, patents may help when it comes to acquisition by bigger companies. However, as a startup when it comes to defending your patents, good luck! Unless you have the muscle and money that comes with a giant C-round or you're already a big company, in my point of view it's simply a waste of time and resources chasing after patents that you cannot afford to defend. Your time is probably better spent creating a better product, service, and company with a kickass culture and rabid fan base.
matt
0
0
matt Entrepreneur
Web Developer
Look for any videos by Jeff Schox!! Sent from my iPhone
Ken Berkun
4
1
Ken Berkun Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur
Contrary to popular belief there are only two reasons for a startup to have patents:
1. Because certain investors want to know that you have patents
2. In the case that you do get sued you have a patent portfolio that you can use for horse trading ("negotiations by a more aggressive means")

Patents are a very expensive hobby and there is almost always a way around them. And international patents are even worse. My second biggest expense after engineers is lawyers and I am not at all sure that it's worth my time and money. As noted elsewhere you need to talk to a patent agent or attorney, preferably one that understands patent strategies not just the patent process itself.
David Pariseau
1
0
David Pariseau Entrepreneur
CTO and CoFounder at Particles Plus
The merit of patents can vary a lot by industry and they can have enormous value (if you're doing something truly revolutionary in a space that has strong patent protection) or be nearly worthless in other areas (as Justin indicated, especially if you're a small company).

So assuming that the patent is in your situation is a worthwhile pursuit. Then the questions in my mind are:
1)How good is your provisional patent? Since provisionals aren't examined and are just a place holder to capture your idea and record the time and material until you file your patent application will you be disclosing anything in your MVP that you haven't covered well and thoroughly in your provisional? If so, then you might want to either file another provisional to cover that, or keep those bits out of the MVP, or file an application w/ the additional info...

2) If you feel you're well covered then getting the differentiating technology in the MVP seems like it would make the most sense. Seems like you'd want to demonstrate your "secret sauce" instead of something everyone has seen. It would seem like that's where the value in your startup lies and the more you can do to demonstrate the better chance you're likely to have to get some traction.

Dave.


Erin Engelhardt
5
0
Erin Engelhardt Advisor
Patent Agent
The decision to file a patent application is one that must consider your objectives as a company. I always ask people what their motivation is for filing a patent application. Some want to attract investment, some want to position themselves as competitive in their space for possible acquisition, others want to put people on notice for potential infringement, and yet others just want to be able to say that they are 'inventors'. It's important to figure out WHAT you really want to achieve with the patent system - your filing strategy should depend on this.

For people who are yet unsure or who are at early days in their company but want to position themselves to be able to take advantage of a first filing, a provisional application is inexpensive to file, though a full disclosure should still be filed to protect your priority which means a formal application. Then you have a year to figure it out.

As a patent agent I've seen lots of mistakes, many of them a result of applications filed without a patent agent. Some of them can be fixed later, but many can't and can result in loss of rights. If you're considering patent protection it's best to talk to a patent agent or patent attorney to make sure you're doing it right. I've also had some interesting issues with the USPTO lately that would have been much more difficult for people filing on their own to sort through. I am biased, but I've been doing this long enough and seen lots of problems... hire a professional, even just for the final review.
Erin Engelhardt
1
0
Erin Engelhardt Advisor
Patent Agent
One more thing: do the research yourself. There are many free online services that you can use to do a prior art search on your own technology. The more informed you are as an inventor the better you will be able to frame your invention, the stronger your patent application will be. (Oh, and the cheaper it will be to engage a patent agent, because you've already done the background work yourself.)
Pejman PJ Yedidsion
1
0
Principal, Patent Attorney at Brooks Acordia IP Law, P.C.
Erin is on point with her response. I'll just add that one of the most important steps for a startup or established company, is to have a comprehensive IP strategy. It is possible that the strategy may be not to file any patent applications; however, it is imperative to sync your business plan & goals with any potential patent strategy. As such, there is no one size fits all. Consulting with someone knowledgeable (doesn't necessarily have to be a patent attorney or agent) to define your goals and assess your IP needs is extremely vital. The approach you adopt should be tailored to your needs, goals, product, technology, etc.
Andy Freeman
1
0
Andy Freeman Advisor
Product Management and ... - Looking for new opportunities
In addition to "some investors want them" and "for trading", there's one other good reason for patenting - some acquirers want patents.

Hunter Webb
0
0
Hunter Webb Entrepreneur
Patent Attorney at Keohane & D'Alessandro, PLLC
A) Should I release the MVP with patent-pending technology or without?

-A public disclosure of your invention may result in the inability to patent the idea in the future. If your idea is one that is easily reverse engineered, this could result in your product being supplanted in the market by a knockoff, much less the loss of the ability to license your invention or the increased value of having a patent "monopoly" over production of the product.

B) What if I use provisional patent pending application - should I still release then?

- A provisional patent application is useful in situations in which a public disclosure is imminent but only protects your idea to the extent of the disclosure in the application. As such, a "paper napkin" provisional application may not provide much in the way of protection.

C) What approach would you take to secure your patent ideas?
D) What strategies have you used in the past? Can you offer any other or personal experiences?

- As Pejman stated above, these two questions are largely dependent on your overall patent strategy.

E) How can I save on costs in filing patents while maintaining a quality application?

- One way is to use a firm in a medium to small market location. These firms have lower overhead than large market firms so they can provide the same services at a lower cost. Also, as Erin said, you can do a large part of the searching yourself.
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