How to Secure a Patent and Protect Your Big Idea
Have you ever wondered how to turn your dreams of owning your own business into a reality? We can help. Each week, as part of ourSelf Madeseries, we showcase female entrepreneurs—as well as their quality, handmade goods—and share their best advice related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.
这一切都开始用手提箱。当Kate Westad是packing for a tripto Paris and the South of France, she struggled to fit all of herskincare routine into her bagwithout breeching TSA protocol. (Since she was packing last-minute, picking up travel-sized cosmetics was out of the questions.) That dilemma—one that so many frequent flyers experienced—inspired her to launch her company,Palette by Pak。
“在那一刻，我可以如此清楚地看到我需要的东西，”Westad解释道。“我可以看到原来的高纤维，我可以打包一切并用我带走我的护肤例程。不得不是更好的方法 - 这就是它。”2019年，Pak由Pak推出原来的高纤维（$39,palettebypak.com），一套五种可重复使用的容器，旨在将您的全尺寸护肤常规进行了。不仅是每个容器耐漏和符合TSA兼容的，而且它们也旨在获得每一次最后一滴creams, cleaners, and serums。
Thanks to her background as a lawyer, Westad knew there was one thing she needed to do beforeturning her vision into a full-fledged business：保护专利。“作为高级概述，有理由知识产权保护for your invention or ideation is so that others can't come and recreate it for a certain period of time," she explains. "What you can see happening, unfortunately, is a scenario where an inventor creates and brings an amazing thing into the world and if they do not protect it—a large company or someone with greater resources can come and reap the benefits of the invention."
Often, securing a patent can be time-consuming, expensive, and confusing. Though Westad is not a patent lawyer—she says there's a reason why these professionals take a specific bar exam—here's her advice based on her experience.
Keep Your Idea on the Down-Low
When you come up with a million-dollar invention, you want to telleveryoneabout it, but instead of shouting your bright idea from the top of a proverbial mountain, Westad recommends remaining tight-lipped for now. "A word of caution to all would-be inventors: You definitely don't want to pre-disclose or pre-publicize something before you have taken the proper steps with the美国专利商标局(or USPTO) to protect your idea or your invention and properly disclose it through the patent process," she says. "An experienced lawyer can help you map out the proper steps to take and safeguards to implement along the way."
Admittedly, a patent may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you have a shiny,new business ventureat your fingertips. However, Westad says it should be one of the very first steps you take a small business owner. Unfortunately, disclosing or publicizing your big idea can possibly take away from, eliminate, or limit your potential protection. "I have run into so many amazing women who are making amazing products," she explains. "I'd ask, 'Did you patent this?' And they say, 'I can't, because I'd already told someone' or they had startedthe initial phase of their product developmentbefore they realized that maybe this was patentable."
谈到法律委员会，Westad建议允许专利律师帮助您解决这个过程。虽然Westad有一个法律背景，但她揭示了她雇用专利律师来帮助她的过程。“律师有时会得到一个糟糕的说唱，”她说。“他们实际上是具有非凡培训和经验的真正助手。许多律师实际上与他们的时间非常慷慨。我甚至无法告诉你有多少律师可能会有多少律师给某人一个免费的咨询or charge them a nominal fee to have an initial discussion. So the question is, if you have this idea, why not know what your protection rights are and then go from there?"
Hiring a lawyer can sound like an expensive, time-consuming, and cost-prohibitive, but Westad says there are ways small business owners can get the support they need. "I know several female inventors who received patent assistance and from universities and their are grants available通过组织and certain government agencies," she says. "Patent attorneys may also offer their services pro-bono or volunteer their time through various organizations. And while hiring an experienced attorney to help is always best option, the USPTO also has aPro SE援助计划人们可以调查。“
Before you get started, it's important to understand the difference between the two patents. A design patent protects整体设计, while a utility patent covers the purpose of your product. At Palette by Pak, the design patent has been granted in the United States and internationally, and the utility patent is pending. To make matters more complicated, patents vary by country. "It is important to think about and discuss with your attorney early on where and how you plan to seek protection," she says. "For us, I always envisioned the High Fiver as a global problem solver so we were smart to look at it from a global perspective from the beginning."
According to Westad, the patent process might vary based on the invention. (For example, atopical beauty product将涉及化学和配方，而像高毡一样持久的好处不会。）但是，无论你在努力，让你的大想跟靠近胸部。“你必须确保没有预先披露或publicationoutside the patent disclosure you will ultimately make," she says. "In general, you have to have your idea, your invention, your concept, whatever it is that you believe that you can have protection for, then you would go to your credible and experienced patent lawyer and have them help you with the process and to ensure it is indeed a novel design or invention."
Another thing to know? It can be a long process. Westad filed the High Fiver's design patent in 2018 in the United States towards the beginning of the year, and it was just granted in the fall of 2020. "Other countries can take a shorter or even longer timeframe," she adds.
Tap Into Your Community
你知道这一点吗？12％的专利持有人是女性? Westad says that percentage gets甚至smaller when you narrow it down to solo female founders. The Palette by Pak founder thinks there's a direct correlation between lack of funding and awareness. (In fact a recent report fromCrunchbasefound sole female founders raised $1 billion less than their male counterparts last year, despite epic funding statistics.)
Westad不仅鼓励有抱负的创始人与之前通过专利过程的企业家联系，但她也鼓励你相信你的大想法。“每年都有数百万这些迷你和旅行尺寸，”Westad说。“这是一亿加农的美容类别。并且认为使用可重复使用的可重新使用，就像原来的高毡一样，可以保持数百万这些不可判断的小塑料out of the landfills, out ofour oceans and our waterways。我的意思是,这是不可思议的。它是如此重要people to not discount their ideas and to not think that they're not smart enough or experienced enough or don't have enough resources to bring something forward in the world because if I can do it, they can do it. The world needs your inventions and innovative ideas."