HighTechXL partner EP&C Patent Attorneys gives startups tips on affordable patent applications. This article first appeared on the EP&C Patent Attorneys website and is published here with their permission.
What came first? The chicken or the egg? Or in patent terms: first the patent application or first the investors? I see a lot of startups struggling with this. A patent application requires a budget, which is often lacking in young companies. An investor can help with this, but he prefers to only step in if there is already a patent application. In this blog I give startups with a limited budget a number of valuable tips to still initiate a patent application.
Tip #1: Do your own novelty search
You can start a novelty search yourself. Google and patent databases contain a wealth of information and publications. Find out the differences between your innovation and what's already out there. Make an accurate comparison here. Then discuss the results with your patent attorney.
Tip #2: Make a good description of the invention.
You can make a detailed description of the invention yourself. Name the advantages of the invention and its possible variations. Can the innovation be used more widely? What else can it do? What happens if it is made of a different type of material? On what points can you vary? This description is a useful starting point for me to prepare the patent application.
Tip #3: File a provisional patent application.
For startups with a limited budget, it can be a financial and strategic advantage to start with a provisional patent application. You postpone the official submission and search costs. The disadvantage is that you miss the feedback from the searcher, but it does give you a year to search for investors with the provisional patent application in hand.
Tip #4: Submit an international PCT application.
The PCT route is an opportunity to obtain international protection for your invention. This postpones costs for parallel country procedures by another year and a half. In other words: even more time to work on your invention and to find investors or (major) partners. With the PCT application, all options remain open. Combined with the advantages of the provisional patent application, you have 2.5 years to choose for which countries the patent should apply. After that time, be selective in your choice of countries for patent granting procedures. Where are your competitors, where is your market? Let investors and partners think about it.
And yet ...
I wouldn't be a good patent attorney if I didn't point out a disclaimer. If you want to save costs as a startup, always opt for a balance between quality and cost-efficiency and, together with your patent attorney, make strategic choices in what you do yourself and what you have done. The chance of optimal protection is of course greatest if your EP&C representative is given the time to delve into your invention. We can also adjust the application, if necessary, based on the searcher's feedback, in order to arrive at a positive opinion from the official body at an early stage, which is also something that investors can greatly appreciate!
EP&C Patent Attorneys partners with HighTechXL to provide startups in our deep-tech venture building program understand all they need to know about intellectual property. EP&C helps our startups create a patent strategy that will provide the best protection for their innovations.
Would you like advice on the budgeting of your patent application? Feel free to contact us. I'll be happy to help you. On working days, you can also chat with me or one of my colleagues between 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM. The chat will open automatically when you go to www.epc.nl. We are ready to answer your questions.