Filing a Patent Application Without a Patent Attorney

You’ve invented a product or process and you’re ready to apply for a patent. What’s next? For many inventors, the next major decision is whether to hire counsel or take on the patent process alone. What should inventors consider?

Is a patent attorney required to file a patent application?

No rule or law prevents an inventor from filing a patent application without assistance from an attorney. While moving forward without legal assistance can save thousands of dollars, there is also a greater risk for those without experience with patent applications. Eventually, the information in the application forms the basis for legal protection of the newly invented product or process. Any deficiency in the original patent application can affect the eventual legal protections if the patent application is accepted. These risks push many inventors to seek assistance from an experienced patent attorney.

What is prior art research?

One of the more arduous tasks in any patent application is patent research, not only in the United States but also in foreign countries, to determine if your new patent would infringe on any existing patents. The USPTO provides numerous online tutorials and explanations of the steps needed for a successful patent application, including patent research.

What are the general categories of patents?

If you choose to wade into the application process without legal assistance, an inventor should understand the types of patents offered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO defines three types of patents, each with its own application: utility, design, and plant patents. A utility patent is for an invention with a specific purpose. A design patent is for an invention of a “new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.” Lastly, a plant patent is exactly what it sounds like—a patent for an invention or discovery and asexually reproduced distinct and new plant varieties.

Should inventors invest in patent attorney assistance to protect their patent?

Patent applications are subject to the payment of basic and additional fees during the process and upon patent issuance. Because of a patent application’s financial commitment, many inventors seek legal assistance to protect their investment in their application. The USPTO admits that while many inventors could successfully file an application and receive a patent, “there would be no assurance that the patent obtained would adequately protect the particular invention” due to the niche rules, Office practice, and procedures of the USPTO.

All in all, while there is no requirement for an inventor to seek legal assistance with filing and prosecuting a patent application, the investment can save considerable time and money. Legal aid can assure the inventor the product or process is adequately protected if the application is accepted.

If you need patent assistance, contact us to learn out how we can help.

Griffith Barbee PLLC

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