Diary Of A Young Entrepreneur – protection and prototypes

In the second of her monthly blog posts charting her journey towards taking an invention to market, young entrepreneur Rowena Mead describes her next steps on the path to protecting her …

14th June 2007 at 3:40 pm

In the second of her monthly blog posts charting her journey towards taking an invention to market, young entrepreneur Rowena Mead describes her next steps on the path to protecting her idea.

Previous entries in the series:

1. Diary Of A Young Entrepreneur – innovation or bust?


Finding A Patent Attorney

After finding only one patent application in Japan which had a similar element to my product, I was advised to contact a professional patent attorney. Smart Innovation pointed me to a good agent, so I emailed them immediately. I always prefer to pick suppliers/services on the basis of recommendation.

Most patent attorneys will meet with you for free initially – to establish what kind of intellectual property protection is correct for your invention. They will also offer to do a search to establish whether your idea is new (for a fee). However, you can do this search more cheaply yourself (as I did). Personally, I think the fewer people you involve in the early stages the better. You also need to bear in mind that if you proceed with a patent application, you have to pay the patent office £130 to do the search anyway – it doesn’t matter if you or someone else has conducted a search beforehand.

My meeting with the patent attorney was very informative. He told me that because of the pre-existing patent application in Japan, the chances of a patent on my product being accepted was borderline. This is because, when you apply for a patent they can take into consideration several other existing applications to try and prove that you could have got your idea from taking aspects from each one. So you can imagine why it’s so hard to get one granted.

Design Copyright

My attorney advised me that design copyright would be a good form of protection, but that we could still file a patent application to provide me with some initial protection. You don’t incur any fees until one year after you’ve filed a patent, and that is only if you want to proceed with it. So it’s a great way to protect your IP initially.

The Prototype

To file a design copyright, you either need photos of a prototype or some very good 3D images done by graphic designers. As I was going on holiday at that point, I decided to try and make a prototype myself whilst in Spain. Quite ludicrous when I think back as the product is so complex it would be impossible for me to produce something that did my idea any justice! After creating havoc with glue guns and nylon debris for 5 days, I gave up and realised I would have to pay someone to do the images.

I called some specialist 3D designers I happened to know. The guys were great at what they did, but it came at a price. Detailed 3D images of my product cost just under £1,300. However, these have proved well worth the money.

Researching The Market

I was then able to file my design copyright and start contemplating market research now that my product was protected. When I mean protected, my patent was pending and my design copyright had been filed. This is as protected as you can get initially unless you want to wait between eight months and two plus years for your IP rights to be fully approved.

Time is of the essence when you’re an inventor, so my next step was to gather market research. This is, as some of you will know, another chapter of my journey altogether!

Rowena Mead

Rowena Mead is a freelance copywriter and entrepreneur with ambitious plans to bring a new type of children's toothbrush to market. Married with a 20 month old mischievous daughter named Saskia who was the inspiration behind her invention, Rowena shares her business trials, tribulations and successes with SmallBizPod readers. http://www.subservientcopy.com

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  1. Don’t worry about protection — it is just not product or service , which needs to be copied , it is your passion, hard work and creativity thats needs to be copied as well.

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