4 things to ask yourself before engaging a patent attorney

You’ve invented something. Congratulations!

So what do you do to make sure your invention is safe from imitators?

Your next step is to apply for a patent, and engaging with a patent attorney can greatly increase your chances of success.

But, before you meet with your patent attorney, here are four questions to ask yourself.

1. Do you need a patent?

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of your invention, but there are some important criteria your invention needs to meet to be considered patentable. Firstly, is your invention new?

To be able to patent it, your invention must be unique. This means it needs to differ in some way from something that already exists – not just in Australia but across the world.

2. Have you kept your invention a secret?

Did you know disclosing your invention to others could endanger your ability to secure a patent?

This includes selling or advertising your product, posting about it on social media, having info about it published in a journal, pitching to venture capitalists or demonstrating it at trade shows.

Don’t panic if you have though.

If you’ve disclosed your invention to other people in any way, make sure you bring this information along with you when meeting your attorney. This should include the date of disclosure, the information you disclosed, and where/how it was disclosed.

You and your attorney can then work through what was disclosed, whether this will impact your application and how to best move forward.

3. Can your invention be a commercial product?

Above all, a patent is a commercial tool. Ask yourself if you have a plan for making money from your invention.  If you don’t, there may be little point in going through the time and expense of securing a patent.

Securing a patent is only one step of turning your invention into a commercial product. If you don’t have the money or expertise to do this on your own, then you might want consider licensing the idea or partnering with someone else instead of seeking a patent on your own.

4. Have you searched for other inventions like yours?

Nobody knows your business, your invention or your industry quite like you do. Your attorney will need your help to know what your industry looks like and what else is being invented to determine how that might impact your patent application.

To be sure that your invention is new, you should conduct an initial patent search online to see if there is already anything out there similar to your invention.

Luckily, there’s help out there on how to do this.

You can start by watching IP Australia’s introduction to patent searching video. It includes information on some of the free online tools you can use to do patent searching, as well as a few basic techniques.

Applying for a patent for the first time can seem daunting, but by making sure you’ve considered the steps above, you can head to a meeting with your attorney feeling prepared.

For more detailed information about engaging a patent attorney, including a downloadable template you can fill out and take to your first meeting, please visit IP Australia’s Engaging an Attorney Toolkit.