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35 U.S.C. §102: You have 1 year from the time you first “publicly disclose” your invention until you have to file for patent protection.
* Certain Exceptions Apply Type of Intellectual Property Protects Average time until issue or final rejection? Expect to pay (attorney fees + costs)* Length of protection Renew-able? Practical examples in business Patent (Utility) How something works 3 years $7,000 - 50,000 20 years from date of filing application* No Devices, substances, business methods. Patent (Provisional) 1 year grace period to file a utility patent application 1 year $3,000 - $6,000 1 year "grace period" No Devices, substances, business methods. Patent (US Design) How something looks 1 year $2,000 14 years from date of issue No Unique shapes of products Patent (European Design) How something looks 5 months $2,000 - $5,000 Up to 25 years from date of issue No Unique shapes of products
Is it a business or a hobby? Business are created to make money, hobbies are for fun. If your invention is just a hobby, sure, try to do it yourself, but don’t expect to succeed. Mistakes made with IP applications are often not “discovered” until years after filing, and you may lose potential patent and trademark rights during this time. A solid IP strategy is essential for attracting investors. Seasoned investors will look carefully at your patent, trademark and copyright applications before they invest in your invention, so why not do it right the first time? As the inventor, what is a good use of your time? Successful inventors focus on what they do best and hire professionals for the rest.