Bruce Stanko is inventive. And he has the paperwork to prove it.
The retired CEO owns two patents stemming from his work in the medical field. The Erie, PA inventor has spent his entire career in the industry, managing and operating two companies that develop medical products. He has even been honored for this work. In 1992, he was named Pittsburgh Business Man of the Year for these patents and other accomplishments.
To say Bruce Stanko understands the U.S. patent process is an understatement. Obtaining a patent can be a long, complex journey. On the surface, it can seem intimidating. Fortunately, he can help.
Using his experience, Bruce Stanko breaks down how to file a patent in six easy-to-follow steps.
Understand your invention
First, you need to know your invention inside and out. Start by determining what is new and useful about your product, focusing on how it differs from options currently available on the market. Then, consider other uses. With additional modifications, can other fields benefit from your work? Asking this question upfront provides better protection, more strategic advantages, and an overall more valuable patent.
Research your invention
Patents are only issued for unique products. It requires absolute novelty. Before investing any more money, conduct a search to see if your idea already exists. Comb through publications, presentations, brochures, or online search engines. You can even search directly with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). In fact, the USPTO requires any applicant to disclose these findings.
Choose the right protection
All patents are not created equal. There are actually three types. Utility patents are the most common, covering any new process, machine, composition of matters, or article of manufacturing. As the name implies, a design patent protects an original or ornamental design for an article of manufacturing. A plant patent exclusively applies to new varieties of plants or other horticulture. Knowing what intellectual property protection you need is important.
File provisionally and quickly
Time is of the essence. As Bruce Stanko points out, the U.S. is a first-to-file process. Being first to invent is meaningless without a patent. A provisional patent helps you move faster. This generates a layer of protection against claims that another person had an idea first. Provisional patents are held for a full year.
Draft the complete application
A provisional application grants you time as you gather information and prepare for the formal process. Bruce Stanko advises that specificity is key. On average, a complete review of a patent can take one to three years. Get it as close to comprehensive as possible on the first try, avoiding unnecessary mistakes and errors. Among other things, you’ll be required to include an abstract, summary, detailed description, and the legal scope of your proposed patent.
Consider a patent attorney
The DIY approach isn’t always the best. There’s no shame in needing a little help. Adding the assistance of an experienced attorney can make the entire process much more simple. They will be able to handle a lot of the details and communication on your behalf. Also, through their experience, they can perhaps limit costly mistakes.