Posts Categorized: Patent Drafting Theory

Patents for Defending Your Company

Many entrepreneurs and business owners want patents that will defend their company against competitors, but few companies actually have a proactive plan for investing their patent assets wisely. BlueIron IP is one way for you to get the benefit of a professionally managed patent portfolio at an affordable cost.

To defend your company, you want patents that are (1) litigation worthy and (2) relate directly to your company’s products and services.

Litigation worthy patents are not the garden variety patents that you get from your local patent attorney. The primary goal of the litigation worthy patent is to get a good examination. This means presenting the invention clearly and succinctly so that the examiner grasps the invention and can do a good search. The second goal is to avoid all of the many pitfalls that can sink a patent in litigation, such as avoiding patent profanity, providing too little (or too narrow) support for variations, and many others.

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Provisional Patent Applications are Wrong for Your Business

In almost all circumstances, an entrepreneur or startup company should NOT get a provisional patent application. The main purpose of the provisional application is to *delay* the patent process. A delay is very useful for circumstances, such as pharmaceuticals, where most of the value of the patent is at the end of the patent term. This is not the case for almost all startup companies.

First, having a patent application quickly will add value to the company. It makes business sense to get patents as fast as possible, since the company’s valuation will go up if you are raising money, and it gives the startup company at least some protection in the marketplace. I suggest using the Patent Prosecution Highway or Track One to expedite the patent to try to get a patent within 1-2 years, not the sometimes 5-7 years without expediting.

Second, a “thin” provisional application does far more damage than it helps. Many people file a 1-2 page provisional application, then think they will come back a year later and pay an attorney to write a “full” patent application. Entrepreneurs often think that they are “protected”, so they go out and freely discuss their inventions with customers, investors, and the general public during the one-year period.

This creates a situation where you have two filing dates: a first one for the provisional and a second filing date with the rest of the material.

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The Importance of the Figures

In preparing a patent application, the figures are one of those things where the patent attorney can add considerable value to the patent when the end uses of the patent are taken into consideration. This requires that the patent attorney/agent understand the business goals of the client, and construct the patent application to align with those business goals.

The importance of good figures cannot be understated.

I mean good figures in terms of design and quality, but especially design.

Figures are required “where necessary for the understanding of the subject matter to be patented.” (35 U.S.C. 113) This definition is the minimum necessary, but meeting the minimum standards does not necessarily add value to the client.

In reality, the figures are used by everybody who touches the patent application, patent publication, and issued patent. These people include the client and the examiner, as well as potential infringers, juries, potential licensees, potential purchasers, and investors. A well designed set of figures allows the patent to tell a story: a story that may be different for each of the potential parties.

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Writing a Good Patent Application

The single most important thing in writing a patent application is for the attorney to *really* understand the invention. If the attorney does not understand the invention and appreciate the subtle nuances of the technology, the attorney cannot write a good application.

On top of that, the attorney needs to understand your business model. A patent for licensing is different from a patent that protects an invention from being copied, which is different from a patent that is part of a large portfolio.

Good patents are not cheap, but cheap patents can be very expensive.

As an aside, “Legalese” is not a good idea when writing a patent. Further, BlueIronIP is a financing company that will provide superior patent protection at a much lower cost than conventional patent attorneys.

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Slowing Down Patent Issuance

There are many strategies and situations where slowing down the patent from issuing is an enormous benefit to the client. Personally, I take a very proactive approach to making the patent issue as late as possible where this is needed, such as filing a provisional application. I could not bear the thought of writing a sloppy patent application or intentionally filing claims are ambiguous or need a lot of work to clean up. I think it is reprehensible to intentionally and needlessly drag out prosecution by filing endless responses to Office actions, because it lines the pockets of the attorney without benefiting the client. I do think there are legitimate, low cost mechanisms that can extend the prosecution time to help the client get the most protection for the money spent.

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