If you’re ready to get a patent, the first thing you should do is find an agent to help you to get your invention ready for the patent process. Be sure the agent you hire is registered with the Patent Office.
Next, do research to see if any patents already exist for an invention similar to yours, which can be done on the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) website. If there’s nothing similar, you’re free to apply for a patent! You need to provide a summary of the invention, a complete description of the invention and its purpose, and drawings of your invention.
Then, your application must be filed within one year of any use or disclosure of the invention. Once you’ve begun filing for a patent with CIPO, you get a “patent pending” title, which lets you begin production before actually getting the patent. If the patent is accepted, you’ll pay an annual fee from $0 to $225.
With all of these fun legal fees, plus the registration and application fees, the whole process can cost upwards of $15,000 (and that’s just if you want to patent in Canada). Also, you must formally request an examination and pay an additional fee to request that the patent be granted. This process can take up to three years to complete, and the patent could still be rejected. If it does get rejected, you can file an amendment letter with the Commissioner of Patents to have your patent reconsidered.
What does all the paperwork and fees get you?
With a patent, you get 20 years of monopoly with your invention. However, patents are not renewable. Once those 20 years are up, the patent falls into the public domain, which means anyone can produce and sell your design. If you have patents internationally too, you must register again in each individual country.
One thing to keep in mind: with your design information available to anyone, there’s a chance that someone could copy your design, make a few tweaks and develop a similar product even before the 20 years of your patent are up. However, you can sue for patent infringement if someone has copied your patent directly.
If the lengthy process and disclosure requirements don’t have you reconsidering the advantages of getting a patent,they can also be incredibly expensive to defend and are usually less effective at protecting intellectual property than most other options, especially for technology. Check out last week’s blog post on intellectual property protection for small businesses to find out more.