So you are considering applying for a patent? Maybe you should think again.

What you are not told by the Patents Office and most of all patent attorneys –

It could take at least 8 years before you get a patent, all this time your patent attorney is going to charge you for absolutely everything he does. He is not looking after you, he is looking after himself and as the process continues his charges increase. At the end of the process you may finally get a patent. As a patent is only for a total of 20 years, you weren’t told that the 8 years it took to get a patent has used up 8 years of your patent, so you really only have a patent for 12 years. Well to put that into perspective you only have legal protection for 12 years of your patent.

Now you may have a patent, for every year after you receive your patent the Patent’s Office is going to charge you a continuance fee that starts at about $300 per annum and increasing to about $1,000 per annum for the final years of the patent.

If you are less than a day overdue for payment of your annual fee you will be charged $100 penalty a month for up to 6 months after that if you are late paying chances are you will lose your patent.

For all IP fees a trademark, a registered design, a patent or a petty patent if you are late paying your annual fees you will be fined $100 a month up to 6 months so if you forget to pay your annual fee you are heavily penalized, you need to be very vigilant.

Then there is the stress during the 8 year waiting period – will I get a patent or won’t I.

If someone infringes your patent you will be back to your patent attorney to defend your rights.

Yes, you have a patent, the Patent’s Office will leave you in the capable hands of your patent attorney, zillions of dollars later the patent attorney is richer, the Patent’s Office maintains its over paid employees and you may be broke.

SO WHEN YOU ARE CONSIDERING APPLYING FOR A PATENT I PERSONALLY WOULD APPLY FOR A PROVISIONAL SPECIFICATION – THE TERM AMERICANS USE IS PATENT PENDING. If I were considering a patent today I would do it differently – I would apply for a provisional specification, what the Americans refer to as patent pending. I would do it without a patent attorney and go through all the motions with the Patents Office. This could give you up to 8 years protection for your invention and cost you very little.

Whilst a product is patent pending it is unlikely anyone would tool up to copy your invention, that is why you see patent pending on so many products. This is what I would do knowing what I know now, however IF YOU WANT TO FULLY PROTECT YOUR PRODUCT GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS OF APPLYING FOR A PATENT.

I remember the Kambrook power board inventor Frank Bannigan wished that he had patented the power board, he didn’t and his invention has been copied by hundreds of companies the world over.

Then there was the case of the intermittent wipers inventor Robert Kearns who inspired the movie a “Flash of Genius” - a must watch - Google it. He had patents and received millions of dollars from the Ford Motor Company and the Chrysler Corporation but this came with the heavy loss of his health, his wife and family when they could not sustain the pressures of ongoing litigation.

I, myself have not experienced an infringement on my patents or litigation. However, “the road to ruin is scattered” with many disillusioned inventors who either stop midstream due to the stress and costs factor or after all the effort and dollars their patent or other intellectual property is denied by the Patents Office.

Regarding other intellectual property i.e. – designs, trademarks etc. These are easily done without a Patent Attorney, however for every application you have to pay an excessive nonrefundable fee to the Patents Office and they will knock you back for almost anything to incur extra fees. So tread lightly, you don’t want to become a continual benefactor to the Patents Office.

It is entirely up to you if you are applying for a patent or simply applying for a provisional patent or any other intellectual property. Knowing what I know now I personally would be applying for a provisional patent. I just wanted the layman to know the hidden costs, the anxiety, the trials and tribulations an inventor has to experience when applying for a patent.

Applying for a patent is not for the faint hearted.

Wishing you all the best of luck in your endeavour.