If your business has just invented the next big thing, it’s important to ensure your rights via a patent application. Attorney Brett Snider offers some advice on when and how to file one in an entry on FindLaw’s Free Enterprise.

  • First up, don’t dawdle. Snider says a provisional patent application (PPA) must be filed 12 months after the product is sold or used publicly. After that, Snider says the patent holder has 12 more months to file or convert the PPA to a nonprovisional application. “If you wait past either of these dates, your patent rights to your invention may be forfeited,” says Snider.
  • If a company has improved upon a current patent or combined existing technologies, secure a combination patent, advises Snider. While they are hard to get, he says they are not unobtainable.
  • Before filing an application, companies must do an intensive search to be sure the patent doesn’t belong to someone else, confirming with an attorney that they have a green light.
  • Assuming you do submit a PPA or nonprovisional patent, follow all the rules. Snider recommends hiring a professional drafter to take care of this portion.
  • Finally, don’t forget to put a solid nondisclosure agreement in place since it can protect your company’s secrets until the patent protections kick in.