How many times have you seen a commercial for a brand-new product and thought, “I came up with that idea years ago!” This scenario happens often, according to Jason Daniel, a registered patent attorney and founder of Daniel Law Offices, P.A. in Orlando. Jason’s firm works with startup companies, large corporations and average, everyday individuals to turn their ideas into reality through all aspects of intellectual property law.
In the early days of his career, Jason worked in a top 5 law firm located right next to the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia. After spending years in a large firm environment working primarily with Fortune 500 companies, he returned to his hometown of Orlando to build a law firm that guides inventors through the patent and trademark process by providing unsurpassed individualized attention.
“I’m a hometown guy who came back to Orlando where I went to school and grew up,” he says. “I wanted to raise my family here and work with companies that are launching new products off the ground.”
Why Are Patents Important?
Maybe one day you’re working around the house and you find that you need a specific tool to fix something, but after searching the Internet you realize that the tool you envisioned doesn’t actually exist. Congratulations, you just became an inventor!
However, there may be someone on the other side of the country who has also thought of that same idea and is actively working on it. That’s where a patent attorney comes in. The patent attorney can describe what you have invented, even if you haven’t made a prototype, and submit the description to the Patent Office.
Jason says that even though you can wait up to one year from the time you publicly disclose something before filing a patent application, you should be careful, as the United States is a first inventor to file country. This means that if someone else independently comes up with the same idea, whoever files a patent application first will have the superior rights to it even if the other person thought of it first. This is why it is important to discuss your idea with a patent attorney before you share it with others.
“The reason you want to patent something is because it gives you a period of exclusivity where competitors can be prevented from coming along and doing the same thing or stealing your idea,” Jason says.
How Do I Get a Patent?
The first step is consulting with a patent attorney to discuss your idea. A patent attorney is extremely specialized because they are required to have a hard science background, such as engineering in Jason’s case, while also passing both the Florida State bar and the Patent bar. Only a licensed patent attorney can practice law before the United States Patent Office.
In order to write the actual patent application, “We describe an idea that’s in someone’s head in such a way that it could be made in the real world. That’s where the hard science background comes into play,” Jason says.
Once the application is written and submitted to the United States Patent Office, the applicant is afforded “patent pending” status immediately, but it can take several months for government patent examiners to review it and compare it with other inventions. Throughout the application process, a patent attorney pleads their client’s case to demonstrate that the described invention represents a novel, innovative and non-obvious step forward.
“We argue on behalf of our clients to the United States government that their idea is innovative and deserves protection. This way, the inventor who came up with the idea can be given an exclusive period of time to benefit from their idea and hopefully be encouraged to make something else.”
Who Needs a Patent?
Anyone who has an idea for a product, service or program needs a patent to protect their idea from businesses with bigger pockets that are looking to make the same thing for less money to poach their customers.
“By getting a patent, you’re able to offer tangible proof that you came up with the idea,” Jason says.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an average Joe with no experience in the business world either. While you may not have the ability or desire to actually make the products in the real world, it is still possible to obtain a patent on the idea and then sell the exclusive rights afforded by the patent to a company that can.
“In some cases, it’s just an idea where someone sees a need for a product and they’ve come up with a way to fill that need,” Jason says.
Do you have the next million-dollar idea? What are you waiting for? Avoid the “I thought of that already” scenarios and see if you can turn your ideas into reality.
Daniel Law Offices, P.A.
605 E. Robinson Street, Suite 105
Orlando, FL 32801
How to Protect Your Ideas
Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind. These creations can be protected from unauthorized use by others so the creator can profit from them. There are several types of intellectual property depending on the subject matter of the creation.
Patents: A patent protects any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. Basically, a patent protects the functional aspects of a device and how it looks.
Trademarks: A trademark protects a company’s name, logo, slogans and other words, symbols or designs that distinguish one business from another. Basically, a trademark prevents someone from starting a business under a name that is confusingly similar to that of an established business. Words, slogans, abbreviations/initials, designs, fictitious characters, colors, sounds and music can also be trademarked.
Copyright: A copyright protects original works of authorship from being copied, modified, distributed or performed by others without the author’s permission. Copyrights apply to an author of artistic or literary productions such as music, graphic designs, architecture, software, books, articles, websites and dramatic works, for example.