When Should I File a Patent?
Once you’ve decided to protect your invention with a
patent, then the most common question asked is when should I file my patent
Fortunately, deciding when to file your patent application
is an easy decision, as the patent laws are very specific on the timing of
filings. For example, the primary factor in determining when to file your
patent application is whether or not you intend to protect the invention
outside of the United States.
If your invention is the type of invention that you plan on
filing for patents outside of the United States, then it’s absolutely necessary
for you to file your patent application before you publicly disclose your
invention. The reason for this is the vast majority of countries outside of the
United States have a patent process in place that prohibits you from filing a
patent if you have publicly disclosed your invention prior to filing. As such,
in many countries if you disclose your invention prior to filing the patent,
then you forfeit your patent rights in that country.
If your invention is the type of invention that you only
plan on protecting inside the United States, then the patent system is a little
bit more lenient. In this situation you have to file your patent application
with the United States patent office within one year of the first public
disclosure of the invention. So if you only plan to protect your invention in
the United States, you can show your invention to friends or businesses, sell
it customers, show it to possible buyers, etc. and not lose any of your US
patent rights as long as you file for your United States patent within one year
of the first time you publicly disclose the invention.
Another aspect to consider in this process is that
disclosure of your invention under a nondisclosure or confidentiality agreement
do not qualify as a public disclosure under the patent laws. For example, if
you would like to show your invention to a potential manufacturer, then you can
both sign a nondisclosure agreement and then show the invention to your
potential manufacturer and this does not qualify as a public disclosure under
the patent laws.