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 Inventing a Retail Product Step #3a

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PostSubject: Inventing a Retail Product Step #3a   Inventing a Retail Product Step #3a EmptyThu Apr 30, 2009 10:36 pm

Research, Research, Research – That’s the mantra of Step #3. Now let’s explore some of the areas of research involved in evaluating how a product will map to the retail environment.

I do want to take a moment and point out that although I do this research on each and every invention/product I develop, there are people out there that are simply born to research. One such person is my good friend Tania Reynaert, you can contact Tania through her blog (http://taniareynaert.blogspot.com/) if you have specific questions about tools and methods to conduct research.

Intellectual Property: As I said before, think of IP as the process of formulating a thought, transferring it down your arm, through your hand and into some tangible form. If you can trace the path of what it is you want to protect in that manner – it’s IP.

There are several forms of IP protection available in the US.

Patents – The protection of a unique and novel invention, process, or technique

Trademarks – The protection of a Brand or Identity

Copyrights – The protection of Thoughts or phrases, art, authorships, recordings…..

Let’s focus for a moment on patents.

Awardable Patents come in 3 basic flavors. Design Patents (Look and feel) , Utility Patents (function and parts), and Process Patents (how you do something). Whereas all patents start life as an application only the Provisional Patent Application (PPA) is designed to never award. The PPA will simply expire it’s term at 12 months and fade away. There is a popular myth that a PPA is “Converted” to a normal patent application at that 12 month point, however that isn’t true. A PPA simply expires and can be replaced in line with a conventional application maintaining the original PPA filing date.

I do want to address an issue many people don’t consider when filing a patent on an invention. That is ‘The Patent Blind Spot” This blind spot is a function of the patent review and award system, and many inventor have no idea it is even a factor in their patent process.

When you file your PPA, and start to work on your invention, contrary to what you may think, that application is simply submitted to a database and never reviewed by an examiner. What that means is for that 12 months the only people on the planet that know that PPA is there are you and the person who filed it for you. If you then replace the PPA with a conventional patent, the new application will publish at about the 18 month point. So for 18 months, no one knows the application is there but you and the person who filed it for you. THEN…if you asked the patent office not to publish (and many people do) the application would not show up publicly until the patent awards at about the 40 month mark.

The reason this is important is, it stands to reason that if YOU can’t see these applications in the USPTO system for up to 40 months – neither can the person you paid to search, so to say any patent search is comprehensive would simply not be accurate.

It is entirely possible that you can file a patent on 1 January 2009, and not know someone else had filed the exact same patent on 31 Dec 2008 (just one day earlier) until your first office action sometime in 2011....in fact it happens far more than you may think.

This phenomenon can be, at worst something that invalidates the protection on an invention you worked hard and invested heavily into – or at best, something you should be aware of.

My disclaimer: Although I have been doing this a very long time. I am not a practicing patent attorney, and the information I provide here on legal issues is information derived through research and discussions with one of my partners who is a practicing patent attorney.
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