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Messages - Brad

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Patent Questions and Advice / Re: Drawings
« on: April 09, 2013, 12:59:21 PM »
Hi Dave,

Sorry I am not the best person to comment on the best program to use for drawings.  For software applications I like to use Visio because the drawings needed will be flow charts and they are easy to make in Visio.   I am sure Adobe Illustrator would be more than enough to prepare both formal and informal drawings.

Since formal drawings are not required for a provisional, you don't have to number each feature but I would highly suggest you at least number the important pieces that you think make your invention unique.  You can always list them in certain "embodiments" or as non-limiting examples when you describe them in your description that way you are not really limiting yourself to the specific drawings.    Here is a good reference for anyone looking to make their own formal patent drawings:

There are two ways to find their patents:

1.  Buy one of their products and check the device and packaging material and instructions for a patent #.  This will be a seven digit number that look like:  X,XXX,XXX.  Then you can search online for it here:

2. Try to find out the legal name of the company that makes the product and any affiliate companies that are related to them.  Next, search for each one by name under "Original Assignee" here:

Next, once you find their patents, look at their "Claims" section to see what they have protection for.


Patent Questions and Advice / Re: Provisional Patent
« on: April 06, 2013, 02:09:47 PM »

The only thing you will get from the patent office is the "Official Filing Receipt".  This usually comes in the mail 2-3 weeks after you submit.  If there are any problems, that notice will let you know.  Most of the time there are no problems so at that point you are "in the clear" to start marking your invention as Patent Pending.

This post has more details:

The patent rules state that a provisional application must include:

(1) A cover sheet identifying:
  • (i) The application as a provisional application,
    (ii) The name or names of the inventor or inventors, (see § 1.41(a)(2)),
    (iii) The residence of each named inventor,
    (iv) The title of the invention,
    (v) The name and registration number of the attorney or agent (if applicable),
    (vi) The docket number used by the person filing the application to identify the application (if applicable),
    (vii) The correspondence address, and
    (viii) The name of the U.S. Government agency and Government contract number (if the invention was made by an agency of the U.S. Government or under a contract with an agency of the U.S. Government);
(2) A specification as prescribed by the first paragraph of 35 U.S.C. 112, see § 1.71;
(3) Drawings, when necessary, see §§ 1.81 to 1.85; and
(4) The prescribed filing fee and application size fee, see § 1.16.

So you can use either but I prefer the SB16 Coversheet since its easier:


Great question.  You cannot add anything new to the provisional but you can add in new material when you file a non-provisional and you can link that non-provisional back to your provisional applicaiton (this is called a priority claim).

The risk here is that the old material from the provisional will get the older filing date and the new material will get the newer filing date of the non-provisional.  So, if your competition filed a patent on the new material in between the time you filed the provisional and the non-provisional, they may get awarded the patent for the new material and not you.

Hi David,

Sorry but I do not do any work with non-provisionals.  This (my website and service) is supposed to be a very part time job for me since I already work a full time job and am in the process of starting two other websites.

If you are confident you want to go with the full non-provisional, I can introduce you to some good patent attorneys who are fairly prices (about $5,000 for a simple invention).

Kind regards,


There is no "proper" format for a provisional application so it really does not matter.  My template that you downloaded was setup to match a non-provisional application so that it will be easier when/if you decide to move onto a non-provisional.

The most important part of your provisional application is that you adequately describe in enough detail how to make and use your invention, not the formatting or look of the document. 

Hi Mona,

After your file your provisional patent application you will have 12 months (1 year) to decide if you want to file in other countries. 

You can either:
(1) File a new application in each country you want protection (for example you could file in the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, China, etc.), or
(2) File a single PCT Application

The PCT Application or an “International Patent Application” acts as a placeholder buying the inventor 30 months (2.5 years) to decide which countries they want to file in after that.  Every major industrialized country is a part of the PCT.

More on this here:

Patent Questions and Advice / Re: Patent Questions
« on: March 18, 2013, 11:16:07 AM »
Thanks for your questions.

1.  If you get a patent on an idea first then you can sue other people to stop copying you.  The patent office will not enforce your patent so it will be up to you.  It can be very expensive (hundreds of thousands of dollars to enforce a patent).

2.  We do not specialize in doing patent searches.  There are other providers out there who can do this better than we can.   However, we will do a brief search (2 to 3 hours) before we take on a new Premium Client.  There are over 8 million patents out there in the United States alone so there is always the chance we (or another searcher) may miss something.

Thank you,

One thing that will be interesting to see is how patent attorneys and their law firms treat this.  I have spoken to several who flat out refuse to pay the "micro entity" fees for their client because they could get in big trouble with the USPTO for incorrectly paying the reduced fee if it turns out their client really is not a micro entity.

I am not sure how I will handle this myself.  I am thinking about creating a form that I will make my clients sign that certifies that they are a micro entity and then keeping that for my records in case the patent office decides to question us on the status and payment of the reduced fees. 

If you are an inventor (or small company with under 500 employees and less than $150,000 in gross income) you may be able to save 50% off the already discounted "small entity" fees at the USPTO.  Starting March 19, 2013 if you:

1) Are the inventor on only 4 or less patent applications (provisionals do not count for this); and
2) Have a gross income that does not exceed three times the median household income for the
preceding calendar year; and (about $150,000)
3) Have not assigned, granted or conveyed, and not be under an obligation to assign, grant or convey,
a license or other ownership interest in the application to an entity that in the preceding calendar
year had a gross income exceeding three times the median household income for that year.

So this means if the current small entity fee to file a new provisional application is $130, then you may have to pay only $65 after March 19th.  I am still not sure how this will all play out but it will be interesting to see.  I know this will really help a lot of you out so I am glad to see this change.

Free Micro Entity Calculator:
USPTO site:

My youtube video on [Patent Micro Entity

Please ask your questions here in the forum (no registration required).   

Also, since I am a registered patent agent and not an attorney, I don't have to follow state bar rules.   I am willing to sign NDAs with my clients.  Just let me know if you want a copy of my NDA and I can email one to you. 

I could write an entire website on this topic so I will try to keep this short and to the point. I am sure most of you have heard of the phrase "Friends, Family, and Fools". Getting funding help from those sources along with credit card debt are probably the most common way for inventors or early stage entrepreneurs to fund their patent costs. I would like to move a step beyond that and explore some other sources of funding.

Source 1 - Grants (local, state, federal, and non-profit)
One of my favorite startup companies that I work with (I wrote their first patent application) was just awarded a $50,000 state wide grant for their new idea plus they previously received a $150,000 SBIR grant from the federal government. Using grants as sources of funding are ideal because they are essentially free money. You don't have to pay that money back and you don't have to give up any equity in your startup. Of course they are also very competitive and hard to get. The best (and free) source to find small business grants from the federal government for a new technology related company is: Did you know you can get free help finding and writing these types of grants? Most states have local developmental centers that know of these types of grants and they can help you find them and apply for free. You don't have to pay for their services (your tax dollars fund these groups). To find them search Google for your state name plus small business or your state name plus SBIR. For example, I am in North Carolina and when I search for "North Carolina SBIR" the first result is the SBTDC which has offices across the state and one of their missions is to help you and your small business succeed and find grants.

Source 2 - Business Plan Competitions
Business plan competitions are not only a good source of free money, they often allow you to network and connect with people in your area who can help you with your new business or in bringing your ideas to market. The local business plan completion near me in Charlotte, NC is offering $100,000 in prize money this year to the winning teams. (fun fact: I wrote the original patent application for this year's winner CanDiag!)  Besides the money and the networking, these competitions usually offer free mentoring and seminars to help you build your business and develop a commercialization plan. You can try searching google for your closest city name and business plan competition, or you can try calling your local university technology transfer office (or find them online) and they should know of any competitions on your area.

Source 3 - Angel Investor Networks
Angel investors are usually wealthy individuals who are willing to invest in very early stage companies or even people with a good idea and a good business plan. The usual amount of their investment is between $50,000-$100,000. Unlike the two sources mentioned above, this type of money is not "free". You will have to give up equity (stock) in your company in exchange for this type of investment. Most cities and large towns will have an angel investment group. The one near me meets once per week and it's a great place for inventors and entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas. Even if you don't get funded it's a good learning experience and most of the angels will try to help you out and maybe put you in touch with people who they think can help you with your new venture. Here is an old director of Angel Networks. Most of them are still around: You can also search google or call your closest university technology transfer office and they should be able to tell you if there are any angel networks nearby.

Source 4 - Crowd Funding
I must admit I don't know much about crowd funding. It seems to be a very hot area right now and a good place to raise some initial money and to also validate your idea.  Most crowd funding sites allow you to post details about your idea and anyone who likes it can either donate money or pre-order your product or service.  This may be a great source of income because it does not make you give up any equity in your company.  Just make sure your patent application is filed before you post any details about your invention online.  The most popular crowd funding site is kickstarter but there are lots of other sites as well.  To learn more, you can go here:

Hi Rob,

That is a tough question.  At this level, you would be looking for someone with an advanced background in Electrical Engineering.  One option I can think of is trying to work with your local university if they have a good Electrical Engineering Dept. and are willing to work with outside companies.  Please rememebr that these professors and researchers are very busy and normally do not have the time or interest to take on side projects so you should be prepared to pay them a fee.  At the university near me, we have a Senior Design program in the Engineering school where for $5,000 you can get a group of Engineering students and one professor to take on your project over the course of a year.  More on this here:

You may also be able to hire people online to at least create the schematics and drawings for your invention.  Ideally you would be able to send those drawings to a prototype manufacturer that has experience in this area.  I have used Elance ( ) with good success finding skilled people but there are other sites as well. 

Sorry I don't do trademarks.  Only trademark attorneys can file trademarks on behalf of clients.  Most attorneys will not sign a NDA because their state bar rules don't allow them to be a counter party to their clients.  In otherwords, your attorney should not sign an agreement with you such as an NDA that may put you against each other in court.

However, if someone is properly registered with the USPTO and their state bar (you can verify online), it is very unlikely they would risk their career to steal your trademark or idea so you can usually trust them.

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