This page discusses basic concepts of patents that inventors should know before contacting Avery Enterprises (or anyone else) about a patent. This information is not legal advice; if you have a specific question, contact us
Before beginning a serious attempt to patent an invention, you must be familiar with what has already been done with respect to your idea. One way to get familiar is to use a search engine like Google. While you search, pay particular attention to how your idea is different from anything you find, as this must be explained in detail in your patent application.
Another place to search is the U.S. Patent Office database to get an idea of what has already been patented in the United States.
Note that your invention must be “new”, “not obvious” and “useful”. The “useful” standard is generally easy to meet; it’s useful if you can explain what it does in 10 seconds or less.
The “new” standard is often harder to meet, as your invention has to not only be “new” in the sense of “I don’t see it on Google or in the patent database”, but has to be “new” in the sense of “it’s been less than a year since I told anyone about my idea or showed it to anyone”. If you told a buddy at work about your idea more than a year ago and then showed him your prototype, that may be enough to keep you from getting a patent. The “new” aspect of an invention can get pretty complicated as to what is “new” and what is not, which is one reason to hire a patent professional like Avery Enterprises who is familiar with the ins and outs.
For example, you can’t patent a game you played as a kid that you’ve never seen in a toy store, since you have to disclose this knowledge to the Patent Office, who will tell you that it is an “old” idea and therefore unpatentable.
Your invention must also be “not obvious”, meaning that “an ordinary person with average skill in the art” couldn’t reasonably think of it just by looking at what already exists. For example, if someone has patented a yellow car, your idea of a blue car would probably be considered “obvious”, because changing colors would be an obvious thing for a skilled carmaker to do. Would adding a microwave oven to a car be considered “obvious”? The answer to that could get pretty complicated, another reason to talk to a patent professional who can help evaluate your idea. The fact that we’ve mentioned the idea on our web site may mean that even if a car microwave isn’t obvious, the idea may not be “new” any more. [See what we mean?]
If after all of this, your invention is new and not obvious, the next step is to let Avery Enterprises do an official patent search. We typically charge $400 for a patent search (which is discounted if we write the patent afterward). After the search, you will receive a patent report containing:
- the categories of already-issued patents and pending patent applications we searched,
- a reference list of patents we found that look most similar to your invention,
- a brief analysis of how each reference in the reference list relates to your invention, and
- our official opinion of whether your invention is patentable, whether a patent application would be worthwhile, and if so, a rough idea of how the application should be written to give you maximum patent protection and profit potential.
If a patent search indicates that your invention may be patentable, we can file your patent application with the U.S. Patent Office (and even in foreign countries if it’s worthwhile to do so).
In some cases, it may be a good idea to have a “provisional” patent written first, which is less expensive to create and allows you to continue developing your idea for another year and see if the idea may make enough money to justify a “non-provisional” (or “regular”) patent. Contact us for more information.
Our fixed fee to write your non-provisional patent is based on an hourly rate that is about one-fourth the rate of patent attorneys in Colorado. But obtaining a patent still costs $5,000-$8,000, as you pay us to write the application and then pay the Patent Office to examine it and issue the patent. The most cost-effective approach is for Avery Enterprises to write the patent application and then contact a patent attorney (for licensing, contracts, royalties, etc.) after your patent is issued.
Note that once you get the patent, you will also pay $4,000-$5,000 to “maintain” your patent during the patent’s lifespan of about 20 years. If you don’t maintain it, the patent expires and becomes open for anyone to use without paying you. As you can see, patents may not be for the impatient, the faint-of-heart, or the undercapitalized.