A Guide to Launching a Patent Reward Program

guide to patent reward program

Innovation is anything but business as usual. Here’s a step-by-step guide to launching a patent reward program to promote innovation. 

Here’s an effective 4 point blueprint:

  1. Capture Ideas

Patents have become an increasingly vital aspect of business. In a competitive and fast-moving industry, protecting a company’s intellectual capital and encouraging innovation is crucial to the unimpeded growth of your business.  For strategic reasons, your company should carefully document innovative business-related ideas that your employees create and consider converting those ideas into patents.

  1. Evaluate Ideas

Set up a company patent committee that evaluates ideas submitted by employees, directs the filing of patent applications and manages your patent program.  Seek help in setting one up, if you do not have an in-house patent committee. Ensure that ideas are evaluated with an objective criteria to find the ideas most likely to protect the intellectual capital of the company within budgetary confines.

  1. Ensure Company Wide Participation

Invite all employees to submit ideas, using Invention Disclosure Forms.  Set up this infrastructure to ensure all employees across the board have access to these resources. Educate your personnel about the existence, availability and instructions of use of these tools

  1. Create a Reward Structure

Design a reward policy or inventor bonus to encourage ideation among employees in your company. Although every idea submitted will not result in the writing of a patent; documenting and developing these ideas helps your company focus on our innovation and competitive advantage.

Here are some suggestions on how you can go about doing this. 

Divide the patent process into phases with a different reward structure for each phase, for example:

Phase One : Submission of Invention Idea

Set out criteria and requirements for submission of an idea to the Patent Committee or equivalent. Later the committee can pick the most promising innovation for protection. An important requirement is that the inventor provides enough technical detail to allow a proper understanding of the invention. You can choose a suitable Invention Disclosure Form template to record invention details.

Phase Two : Filing of Patent Application

Criteria for an inventor bonus under this category could include filing of a non-provisional US Patent application along with signing of the requisite documents requested by the Committee by the employee/inventor. 

Phase Three : Issuance of Patent

If a patent application is successful you can give larger rewards. Criteria could include the event in which the Patent Office grants a patent without the Company abandoning the application.

The company can decide the type of rewards. Rewards can include cash reward, formal recognition or other benefits, proportionately set out for each phase. Presented below is a sample table that lays out the rewards program. 

Phase 1 : Submission of an Invention Idea

[1] All COMPANY employees are eligible to participate in the COMPANY Patent Reward Program.

[2] Patents may only be applied for by actual inventors, and patent laws heavily penalize patent holders where actual inventorship is misrepresented during the process of applying for the patent.

Phase 2 - Filing of Patent Application

[3] Where COMPANY determines to file a provisional patent application, the Phase B reward would be payable at such later time, if any, as COMPANY converts the provisional patent application to a non-provisional patent application.

[4] Phase B reward applies solely to filing of patent applications in the United States, and not filings in any other countries.  Continuation and Divisional applications are not eligible for a reward.

Phase 3 - Issuance of Patent

[5] Employee inventor(s) must cooperate in prosecuting the patent in the United States and abroad as requested by the Committee to remain eligible for a Phase C reward.

[6] Only one Phase C monetary award is possible per employee inventor per patent application filed such that any continuation or divisional of the original patent application could not result in further awards.

Let’s Sum it Up

When creating a rewards program, you must make all terms and conditions of the program clear to the employees. Inventors will scrutinize the rules so leave no room for confusion.

Let the company retain the sole right to delete, suspend, discontinue or revise any of all provisions in the company ‘Patent Reward Program’ at any time, for any reason, with or without notice.  Consider posting the latest policy on the company intranet.  The company patent committee must have the sole discretion to choose the ideas for filing as patents, choose which countries to file into, and to abandon patent applications when deemed warranted.

Remind your employees about the existence of the company patent program with an orientation at hiring and follow-up training.  Patentable ideas are among the company’s most sensitive information, and everyone must treat them with the utmost confidentiality.

At TriangleIP we have designed an intuitive drag and drop innovation management software to take care of your patent mining process. Definitely give it a try!

Infographic - Structure your own patent reward program

Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

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Invention Disclosures | Enablers and Blockers

Do’s & Don’ts For Invention Disclosures

Not enough invention disclosures?

Your patent program may fall apart if your inventors are not submitting enough ideas to feed the pipeline toward patenting. The underlying reasons could be anything; from lack of inventor motivation to the process being confusing.

The progression of an idea from the invention to the patenting needs to be a systematic process with steady and sustained flow through the various stages. It starts with invention disclosure or capture where you would need your inventors to disclose their new innovation.

Let’s do a deep dive into the first step—Invention Disclosure and how you can begin a successful patent program.  

The Invention Disclosure / Idea Capture Form

Simply said, an invention disclosure form (IDF) captures an invention and surrounding details with the intent of possibly patenting. 

Invention Disclosures | The Blockers

Ad-hoc Process

Many companies don’t have a set process for filling IDFs. Some companies use simple forms for invention disclosures, and others have an online equivalent. Tracking of the IDF workflow might use makeshift approaches such as spreadsheets. Sometimes the only process happens with emails. 

Each of these processes has one or the other drawback as listed below:

  1. Non-intuitive for inventors without easy collaboration
  2. Possibility of loss of data in transitions with little transparency
  3. Long and complex forms act as a friction intimidating innovators
  4. Lack of real time updates on the progress from idea to patent

The Reluctant Inventor

Inventors like to create, but their disinterest in long forms is a hurdle. Sometimes, the inventors are too busy with other priorities and other times they shy away from the lengthy process.

There is a possibility of lack of motivation too for inventors to fill the IDFs. Either they are not aware of the importance of patents or there is not sufficient incentive attached with the disclosure process.

Long and Complex Forms

Inventors do not receive instruction on the patent process in university and don’t understand what information should go into the requested form fields. Vague questions frequently create a practical barrier for the first-timers, and a busy inventor might lose interest quickly for a tedious form. Eventually, a lack of guidance to fill out the right information also hampers an inventor’s interest.

Lack of Recognition

Have you motivated your inventors enough to fill an IDF? Positive reinforcement helps.

Those who are less familiar with technical documentation and publishing papers are more reluctant to fill out long forms. Tracking who is submitting ideas into the process and providing positive feedback helps socialize the importance of the patent program.

Lack of Awareness

Often, inventors simply aren’t aware of the patenting process, and they don’t know the benefits of protecting their innovation. Even if companies have a patent training course for their employees, maybe it only happens once a year. Ideally, the awareness starts with hiring, during orientation and should be reinforced frequently.

Sometimes, inventors harbor false perceptions of patents from the wrong sources. Explaining the strategic reasons for the patent program helps socialize the importance to enterprise success. Most companies are loath to enforce their patents as that would scare away participation.  Explaining defensive patent portfolio strategies that discourage others from preemptively suing while enhancing shareholder value with intellectual asset creation are more easily embraced strategies.

Invention Disclosures | The Enablers

You must sufficiently motivate the inventors to avoid the loss of patentable ideas. The unprotected innovations are given to the public domain if a patent is not quickly filed.  Here are a few tips to encourage engagement with the patent process:

Culture Change & Awareness

Conduct regular training for the inventors and IP teams. Educating new employees about the benefits of invention capture and how the complete process can improve your IP portfolio. Explain the strategies for building a patent portfolio. These are great opportunities to also invite industry experts to speak in internal forums. Consider workshops around innovation to motivate people further.

Explain the process clearly and as interactively as possible. Make available an IP expert(s) that inventors can seek out for guidance.

Rewards & Recognition

Creators need the motivation to spend time engaging in the process. Offer a bonus at different stages along the way to getting a patent. In addition to monetary bonuses consider giving them other rewards such as, certificates, manager recognition, and a voice in internal newsletters.

Seek Only What’s Necessary

The process of capturing innovation from inventors should have minimum friction. Long and complex forms discourage engagement. Hence, in the first go, seek only the necessary information with the IDF. 


The title should be a one-line concise description of the invention.


The form should capture the inventor’s email address for follow-up. Contact information about any manager or prosecutor would be a plus.


The summary should be focused on the following three most important things:

  1. Technical problem the invention solves
  2. Scientific or technical solution – the invention itself
  3. Advantages over existing solutions to the subject problem

Attaching existing diagrams, presentations, and other documents that add clarity towards understanding the invention better.

Keeping all the above in mind, we have designed the idea capture form with a very simple and intuitive approach via the TIP tool (an innovation management software) at TriangleIP. 

To download the Invention Disclosure Form, request below!

Download IDF in Word Format

Download IDF in Excel Format

The form limits necessary fields only to the invention title and inventor’s email. It also has a summary section where the inventor fills out the invention details in a problem-solution-benefits format. Don’t forget to tag your disclosure with keywords to make later searching and sorting easier.  The form further has few additional fields for subjective value, patentability estimate and any filing deadline.  Attach any file that provides more detail on your invention such as white papers, presentations, recordings, videos, etc. .

Here is another good read for you – “7 surefire ways to get more invention disclosures“.

Wrapping Up The Do’s & Don’ts For Invention Disclosures

The first step to creating a successful patent program is to set up a systematic process to capture ideas and manage their journey to patent protection. Invention disclosures are the beginning point in this program. Encourage your inventors to fill the disclosures by:

  • Keeping the process intuitive
  • Incentivizing the process of writing and submitting disclosures
  • Training the inventors on the importance of IP
  • Creating a culture of innovation that seeks to produce regularly
  • Simplifying and socializing the innovation management process

With these tips, we hope your inventors fill your capture program with an abundance of IDFs to feed your patent program.

Beyond the use of the downloadable IDF form we provided above, the TIP tool by Triangle IP can help you manage your patent program with it’s simple workflow and drag-and-drop features. Additionally, the tool is soon going to offer various analytics that can enhance patenting decision-making. Definitely give it a try! 

Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

TIP Tool is free for your whole team

No credit card required. No setup fees. No need to download.

7 Surefire Ways To Get More Invention Disclosures

7 Ways to Get More Invention Disclosures

“Getting more invention disclosures is an uphill task since inventors and paperwork usually do not go together very well.”

If your organization is not able to get enough invention disclosures from your inventors, you are not alone. People are not eager to engage with things they do not understand. Long, complex forms are just that kind of thing. Inventors are busy people. Their main job is innovation and development, not paperwork.

Inventors often completely forget to report their inventions for patenting because of their busy schedules. Sometimes, they think that the invention is too obvious and they don’t report it at all. As a result,  the innovation managers may lose potentially patentable ideas.

The first step is to get inventors to capture more innovation using an invention disclosure form. Furthermore, when inventors fail to submit invention disclosures in a timely manner,  it leads to the patenting process being rushed. All too often enterprises approach me just before the launch date, seeking help for patent protection at the eleventh hour. However, as discussed below, there are ways to solve this problem.

More Invention Disclosures

Here are 7 ways you can get inventors to submit more invention disclosures:

  1. Training inventors on the importance of IP to socialize the process
  2. Keeping the invention capture process simple and understandable
  3. Ensuring the availability of IP experts in-house or from outside on a contractual basis
  4. Formulating an incentive program that encourages inventor involvement throughout the entire process
  5. Making participation in the IP program part of the inventor’s job description
  6. Evangelizing of the patent program from the executive level down
  7. Making the creation of IP a core part of the organisation’s culture

#1 – Training and Socialization

Training and educating about the importance of idea capture and the ways to fill the invention disclosure form (IDF) efficiently is essential. An IDF helps your organisation begin the process to decide which inventions are patentable and worth pursuit. The information in the IDF also documents information that will help evaluation and drafting of a patent application. 

Conduct interactive sessions with the inventors to explain the invention disclosure and patent process. Also, your organisation can circulate samples of properly filled forms where the patents have been granted successfully. Consider publishing guidelines for filling out the form or recording training for all new hires to understand the innovation program.

#2 – Simple & Engaging Process

As stated above, people do not engage with intimidating things they do not understand. The process for filling out an IDF needs to be simple and avoid unnecessary complexity. It has to allow the inventors to gather their thoughts about the invention and express them easily. 

One of the ways to increase engagement with the disclosure process is by having online disclosure forms. Electronic forms can be reactive and adaptive depending on the answers.  It also can provide helpful tips and allow collaboration with all parties involved.

Whether the IDF is online or not, it should aim to document only the necessary information to initiate the process. Invention disclosure mainly requires the inventor to accurately describe the technologic  problem and solution along with advantages of their invention over prior solutions. To avoid intimidation, the disclosure form needs to be as short as possible with simple language. The key elements of an intuitive and inventor friendly IDF are:

  • Title of the invention
  • Inventor’s contact information
  • Summary of the idea / invention including: 
    • The problem that prompted the creation of the invention
    • The solution provided by the invention
    • The novel and/or enhanced features in comparison to previous similar inventions
  • Detailed diagrams, flow charts, drawings etc. explaining the working of the invention are great too
  • Attaching any pre-existing documentation will help

Ask your inventors to answer these basic questions in order to make the drafting of comprehensive patent specifications easier. Proper invention disclosure will ensure a hassle free patent prosecution process. 

At Triangle IP we have created a simple Invention Disclosure Form, which we also call an Idea Capture Form. It skips the complex questions that need answers at later stages of the patent prosecution process. There is also the option of adding tags, which can be helpful later to filter ideas.

Triangle IP Idea form / invention disclosure form
The Idea Form At TriangleIP

If you wish you can download the idea from using the form below:

#3 – Availability of IP Experts

Your organisation can also explore the possibility of employing in-house Intellectual Property (IP) professionals who can help the inventors with the process. If employing a full or part-time in-house IP professional is not possible, then you should identify and engage outside IP professionals.  There are consultants, patent agents and patent attorneys who are well versed in the innovation capture process. Conducting seminars with the help of IP experts once or twice a year can be beneficial too. 

#4 – Incentive Programs

When there is a lack of incentives to participate in the patenting process, inventors do not feel the need to pay as much attention to filling out IDFs. Encourage the proper disclosure of inventions by providing inventors with varying monetary incentives at different stages. These programs vary in their incentive while paying for engagement through the patent process. For example, award incentives at the following stages of the process:

  • Upon submitting the IDF
  • When the invention is selected for patenting 
  • At the time of filing the patent application
  • Upon grant of the patent(s)
  • After the inflow of revenue from the invention
Incentive program for inventors to motivate them to submit more invention disclosures

#5 – Participation in the IP Program.

At the time of hiring engineers, software developers, scientists, and other innovators, your organisation should set clear expectations for them to participate in the patent program. Include a specific question regarding employee’s contributions to the company’s patent program in any self-evaluation / annual review. This encourages participating and eventually submitting more disclosures. 


#6 – Evangelists for Patent Programs

The top management of your organization should remind employees of the importance of the patent program. They should encourage inventors to submit an IDF as soon as an idea is conceived. Management endorsement and reminders assure the patent program will succeed. This priority will spread to the rest of the employees at the company. Without buy-in from top management, a patent program cannot be successfully implemented in your organisation.

#7 – Innovation-Driven Culture

Your organisation should make the process of invention disclosure and patent prosecution worth the inventor’s while. Your patent program should not be a burden on the inventor. IP awareness and protection should be a cultural thing, which is structured properly and decorated in its policies. Integrating IP strategy into your business policies fosters innovation, for example, the employee handbook. An effective patent program will properly protect your innovation.

Download this short, simple yet powerful Invention Disclosure Form to help you with your disclosure process


A simple and engaging invention disclosure process with the right training and motivation for inventors will help your organisation to:

  • Capture more invention disclosures
  • Decrease innovation that never gets documented
  • Expedite the process of filing patent applications
  • Documents innovation with knowledge capture
  • Provide your company with all the benefits of patent protection

Create a culture in your organisation where inventors understand the importance of patents and are enthusiastic about the process. To get more invention disclosures, train inventors to accurately fill out the IDF while socializing the program. A proper capture process helps identify all the ideas which can be transformed into patentable inventions. 

The IDF needs to be simple and engaging. At Triangle IP (TIP) we have created an intuitive drag-and-drop innovation capture tool to take control of the patent mining process while encouraging collaboration. Using the TIP innovation management tool will maximize innovation capture at your organization.

7 surefire ways to get more invention disclosures

TIP Tool is free for your whole team

No credit card required. No setup fees. No need to download.

Patent Mining: 5 Ways To Go About It At Your Enterprise


As a patent portfolio manager, you want to keep abreast of innovations within the enterprise.

You want to detect and capture likely patentable innovation early enough.

It’s you, who best understands the importance of creating valuable IP.

Maybe you are super technical or maybe not.

You may be comfortable in one technology domain but may not understand other technology domains so well. However, you need to capture innovations from all product lines in the enterprise.

This process of patent mining can be challenging in the absence of a systematic approach.

“Patent Mining is like a treasure hunt, the key to the treasure lies in asking the right questions to the right people.”

Patent Mining at your enterprise

The right people being:

  • Developers
  • Engineers
  • Scientists
  • Product Designers
  • Marketing
  • C-suite

And the right questions frame the patentable aspects of innovations across the enterprise. Ready to dive in? Here are the 5 ways you, the patent portfolio manager, would go about mining for patents at the enterprise.

Hanging around innovators

Tapping into existing development checkpoints

Staying up-to-date with product rollout plans

Learning key selling features from the marketing team

Knowing the strategic vision from the C-Suite executives

Hanging Around with Innovators for Patent Mining

Having the smartest employees is wasted if there is no opportunity to uncover their inventive ideas. Hang around people within the enterprise who have titles such as developers, engineers, scientists, and product designers. Find out about the problems they are solving and the technology they are developing to do so. The company presumably hired these sorts of employees to build new things so certainly they are coming up with new ideas as they carry out their work.

Hanging Around Innovators for patent mining

Networking with these groups of technical people will lead to discussions about their work and patenting opportunities.

Tapping Into Natural Checkpoints

Product development is multifaceted. The process has many stages from conceptualization through market release with the process varying in every enterprise. Usually, during the product development process, you have natural checkpoints that you should look out for. For example, during the product development stage, you might have a proposal, design review or customer presentation. These are often opportunities to get insights so lookout for things that could be patented.

Tapping Into Natural Checkpoints for patent mining

Ask questions about the uniqueness or novelty of the product being developed or its advantages. Focus on the responses and get feedback about the products satisfaction of customer needs. The feedback received would often expose a path to new improvements or enhancements that can place you at an advantage over your competitors. Feedback during the product development process identifies inventive ideas which can lead to a patent.

Staying Up-To-Date With Product Rollout

Closely watch as products get ready for rollout. Product rollout is a term used for the introduction and integration of a new product or service to the market. It is important that you listen to people talking about products that are about to be released. The key questions to ask here will be:

Is there anything new?

What is the problem that this product solves?

What are the advantages of the product?

How is it better than the previous version?

Does the new product make use of new technology?

Staying Up-To-Date With Product Rollout for patent mining

Asking these questions can lead you to terrific new insights and you shall be able to spot some potential patenting opportunities. Timeliness is of the utmost importance here. In the U.S. you lose the right to file a patent after one year of disclosing any information about the new product to the public. Marketing often controls the release of product information to create filing deadlines.

Learning Key Selling Features From The Marketing Team

Marketing usually goes hand in hand with the process of new product rollout. It is crucial that you look out for the key selling features that the marketing team is using to sell the new product. For example, the marketing team can claim the new product is more user friendly than previous products of its type or that it is 20% faster than the previous product. Uncover the technology or innovation associated that is creating that difference, and that might be something to file a patent on.

Learning Key Selling Features From The Marketing Team

Catching Up With The C-Suite Executives for patent mining within the enterprise

Networking with key executives on the technical staff, for example, the Chief Technical Officers, Chief Scientists, etc. is key for patent mining within the enterprise. These technical executives usually have a good grip on the strategic vision. They might not be familiar with how patents work so it’s important that you educate them. These key managers usually have their tentacles going in different product directions because they engage firsthand with the technologies used in the enterprise daily. The key managers should be trained to look out for and identify innovations or ideas that can be patented within the enterprise. It is important to catch up with these executives on a regular basis to know their innovative direction.

Catching Up With The C-Suite Executives

Let’s Sum It Up

These 5 patent mining strategies are the ways to go about gathering up inventions for patent protection. Here is a quick recap of the 5 strategies for you:

  • Professionals with roles like scientists, engineers, developers, and designers work on new products, and hanging around them can lead to patenting opportunities.
  • Tapping on the natural checkpoints like proposal, design review or a customer presentation may also help you find patentable innovations.
  • Whether the product is more user-friendly or 20% better at its performance; there is a good possibility of innovation that led to the improvement. Exclusively owning those marketing advantages is a must.
  • Many times marketing goes hand-in-hand with product rollout; learning key selling features from the marketing team may direct you toward the underlying innovations that might be patented.
  • Catching up with the C-Suite executives can help you spot strategic direction; as these are the people who have a complete picture and insider information on what’s happening across the enterprise.

Our founder recently talked about patent mining in one of his Youtube sessions. Here is the video:

Hope this would help you break down the sometimes-overwhelming task of identifying patentable ideas within an enterprise. Patent mining is one task and managing the patent capture is a whole different game. In the absence of the right tool, the information might just be a mess, that no one wants to get into. Hence, you might like to explore software that simplifies the process into stages:

Idea Capturing

Internal Vetting

Patent Drafting

Patent Filing

Portfolio Managing

Patent Mining framework

Here is a good guide for you to evaluate the tools for innovation capture for a sound IP strategy.

Patent Mining: 5 Ways To Go About It At Your Enterprise

Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

TIP Tool is free for your whole team

No credit card required. No setup fees. No need to download.

How to control patent costs without compromising on your patent?

Controlling patent cost without compromising on patent

Filing a patent application has long been known as the best protection for an invention, but it has become extremely expensive. Some of the costs are unavoidable to have the best chance for an issued application. Other costs might seem like they are required as well, but they can actually be limited or even avoided, saving you considerable money when protecting your innovation.

Seek Out Problems First, then Innovate with Something New

There is always a need to solve a vexing problem in a unique way. But, how do you know that your innovation is unique?  If your idea cannot be found in the market or after a little searching, it might be novel and you might consider filing a patent application. The technical process of confirming novelty is to perform a “patentability” search of the “prior art” but it is difficult to be sure. Prior art is just anything published earlier than the priority date of your patent filing.  Patents take 18 months or more to publish so a patent search may not find an earlier filing in quickly evolving areas.  

The patent search is also invaluable because it can uncover competitor patents before your design solidifies to allow for designing around to avoid later infringement suits when your product is released. Search firms will take your description and search for anything similar so you can be sure to have something unique. The identification of similar patented solutions is an early and low-cost warning of your market competition. With advance notice, your commercial offering can be changed to improve your idea’s uniqueness without treading on another’s patent rights. Most patents have some way to design around them, especially if found early in your product development cycle.

When is the Right Time to File your Patent Application

Once you have your unique solution to the problem and understand the value with respect to what others have done, it is time to have your own patent application prepared.  You can file an application once your innovation is ready for patenting, but often your design is a moving target. Procrastination can be your worst enemy as it is a “race to the patent office” because the first to file will almost certainly have priority over a later filing.  Also, your own disclosure of the innovation prevents filing in most countries even though the U.S. has a one-year grace period. Hot areas buzzing with interest coincidentally have parallel development at different companies as thought converges on the best solution. The best practice is to file early and often as your design improves with any additional innovation.  If you think the innovation will evolve, you might consider a serial set of provisional filings as things crystalize toward your commercial embodiment.

Reduce the Costs with Preparation Work

Once you have your unique solution to the problem and understand the value with respect to what others have done, it is time to gather information for your own patent application.  Any details on the design (even if not completed or built) will help with the drafting. An innovation capture tool like the idea manager offered by Triangle IP allows describing the innovation and attaching any supporting information (e.g., photos, recordings, presentations, papers, CAD files, etc.).  Gathering implementation details on the innovation along with a description of how your innovation solves a problem in a manner different from prior art attempts. Alternatives and sub-innovations are important too. 

Often, inventors do not work alone.  When gathering details on your innovation it is important to brainstorm with other inventors or colleagues.  This collaboration can be done by sharing the invention disclosure form online with the idea manager or another tool.  Any identified inventor is given access to the invention disclosure form to add their own thinking and documentation.

Typically, a patent attorney or agent (“patent prosecutor”) has to be found to write your application.  Strategies for selecting counsel are described in this article.  After digestion of the information uploaded a good patent prosecutor normally conducts an interview to ask for additional details and further clarification.  More information you prepare in advance of the patent prosecutor getting involved will save legal fees.

Review the Drafts and Think Creatively

A good patent application knows what innovation is unique and describes the differences that create your value proposition.  Corners should not be cut on the contents of your application. Your unique part of the product forms what is called “the heart of the innovation” and is part of each independent claim to define your rights.  Describe in great detail how that heart would work and any alternatives that might have the same value proposition.

Almost every time a patent application is filed, the examiner will reject your claims.  Having additional detail in the filing allows crafting fall-back positions for amending the claims to gain your issuance.  A narrow claim can still block your competition if that is the only practical way to accomplish the innovation. A great patent has as much detail and alternatives as possible when it comes to the heart of the innovation.

Reducing Litigation Costs By Being Strategic

Half the problem with patent litigation is how much time needs to be spent trying to prove with documentation that your patent was in place before someone else’s alleged idea hit the market. You can anticipate this problem and its solution by filing as many complete drawings and concepts with the U.S. Patent Office as possible for basic filings and base designs. 

Generally, the party who has the earliest history stands on the strongest ground legally, and that leads to a far higher success at summary judgments where the court literally stops a case from going further because your argument of ownership is so obvious.

Avoid disputes with competing ideas by securing an early review that includes competing concepts and images in a decisive determination. Patent legal review can be just the basic preparation for patent filing success or it can also include the additional work in making sure no one else had the same idea prior, or very similar. 

The few dollars spent as you develop the application could save you 10 times the cost in litigation that you end up losing because you never had a win in the first place.

Insurance is not a dumb idea either. As a preventative step, you can take out a patent insurance policy that covers defense of your patent up to a specific level of cost, which can also include settlement or judgment financial risks as well. That insurance plan can end up being your safety net financially to the extent you have to fend off a patent attack or pursue enforcement of your approved patent.

If you do have to litigate, stay on top of the proceedings and your legal representation with weekly meetings and status checks. Lawyers billing for work versus retainer charge all kinds of activities by the hour, but if your status checks reign in activities approved, then the billing can’t pad in unknown expenses so easily. This, in turn, cuts down on your legal costs over the duration of the litigation by avoiding charges you have no responsibility for in the first place.

Finally, not every lawsuit has to end in a trial and 50/50 chance of winning a judgment. You could salvage a patent loss or major legal cost by finding a way to settle and still hold onto some of the value of your invention and holding. Compromise has built and sustained more than one company and inventor by combining forces in cooperation versus direct fighting. Settlements shut down lawsuits permanently, stop the cost bleeding for continuing, and may very well be cheaper in the end than a full-blown fight to the end.

Spread Your Costs With Teamwork Help

If you have a great idea that really can work and be successful as a patent, why not bring in partners who can help bear the cost of the application process and potential enforcement costs? There are plenty of investor partner potentials who can find a profitable path to get on board and join your venture. Where this is possible, the overall cost to you for bringing your idea to patent can be reduced significantly in exchange for a share of the success and related licensing revenue stream. Not everyone makes a great partner, but it’s an option definitely worth considering.

Don’t Cut Costs Just for the Sake of Money or You Will Pay

Trying to save money on patent approval or enforcement just for the sake of the financial impact alone is poor planning. Don’t do it. The fact is, not paying for the critical review and legal costs to create or enforce a patent almost always ends up costing more in the long run. If you are going to seek savings in your patent project, you do need to make sure every step is part of your overall strategy towards your patent success. Again, some costs are worth the trouble when measured against the overall gain or loss in total.

In Closing, Don’t Expect Things to Get Cheaper On Their Own

The simple fact is, the patent protection world is not going to become more affordable anytime soon. There is simply too much demand for invention protection with too few qualified patent prosecutors. As a result, most providers are going to continue to charge high costs at a premium over the rest of the legal market. The greatest control you have is to be prepared and avoid wasted effort. In the beginning stages, you can make a significant difference in reducing costs while pursuing an uncompromising patent to protect your innovation.

Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

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User Privacy: Can Blockchain really shift the control back to users?

Can blockchain shift control back to users

With every browsing session and every online purchase, you are leaving footprints and creating ample amounts of data. Indeed, your personal information is now mostly available in the public domain. Many businesses rely on collecting, organizing, and profitably using this data. 

In particular, personal data is information that relates to an identifiable living individual. It can include names, email IDs, ID card numbers, logging information, information on financial transactions, physical and IP addresses, and the like.

Does it carry any value? Well, according to the Smithers Pira report, the market for personal ID credential stands at $8.7 billion. And it is forecasted to hit $9.7 billion by 2021.

Blockchain Market Growth

Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many other companies have access to a large scale of our personal data that they sell to advertisers. Even though they claim to have stringent data privacy practices, these companies are responsible for recurring personal data breaches.

A Cybersecurity Ventures Report predicts that cybercrime damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021. Indeed, there’s a running joke that Facebook knows you better than you know yourself.

Can blockchain help us to wade through these data breaches that have become commonplace? Is it possible for the user to get back control of their data?

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin show some promise. You can use them to solve the issues of trust and transparency. For over a decade, they have worked in hostile environments to hold details of coins of over a million users. 

In the article, you will get to explore the distributed ledger technology of Blockchain. First, let’s look at how privacy concerns forced the EU to enforce new privacy rules that all businesses had to oblige.

GDPR and User Privacy

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25, 2018. It applies to companies that provide goods or services to businesses or customers in the EU. And it reflects a paradigm shift in the relationship users have with their personal data. 

The regulation calls for providing substantial rights to the users in their interaction with data controllers and data processors (majorly tech companies). Here’s an overview of the critical changes that compliance with the regulation is expected to bring.

Changes with GDPR

As you can see, GDPR calls for: 

  • An explicit and informed consent from the user before a company can collect their personal data.
  • Giving the right to the individuals to have their data deleted (under certain conditions).
  • Strengthening the reporting obligations and enforcement: Data breaches must be reported within 72 hours.
  • A failure to comply could result in a fine of up to 4% of annual global turnover (or €20 million).

Such regulations are an economic deterrent for companies that indulge in violating user data privacy. Stricter implementation will make the breaches a lot more costly. 

However, with the world moving towards a decentralized power structure are regulations the way forward? We’ll come back to the question after looking at how the underlying blockchain technology works.

Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Overview

The main problem with the public internet framework is the incompatibility between the architecture of the internet and the data privacy requirements. Each time a data set passes through a third-party entity, a copy is withheld in a centralized database, and it becomes prone to hacks.

The internet generates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. Further, 90% of the data in the world was created in the last two years alone. At such a huge scale, a new approach that could solve user privacy concerns is distributed ledger technology (DLT).

Distributed Ledger Technology

Specifically, blockchains are decentralized DLT, and their information is stored not in a single, centralized database. Instead, it’s stored in a potentially infinite number of databases called blocks. They store immutable records distributed among different users that have their private encrypted keys. 

Here’s a look at how blockchain works to facilitate an online transaction.

Working of Blockchain

Next, let’s explore how blockchain can come in handy to help us secure our personal data.

How DLT can safeguard our personal data (and a look at MIT Enigma Project and Bitclave…)

Right now, you submit our data to different platforms that you interact with online. DLT could chip in to store it in decentralized ledger/blocks. Thereby, the data becomes free from a single point of access and failure. 

A major challenge with blockchain that remains is that your data is shared “everywhere.” How does it even address our issue of “privacy” of our crucial information? Further, computing on blockchain becomes slow at a large scale. 

Issues with Blockchain

To solve the above two major issues:

Enter researchers from MIT with their enigma project. Their protocol achieves “sharing of secrets without revealing any information to outsiders or the individuals involved.”

Assuming that we successfully solve the challenges with blockchain, the existing ecosystem between the users and companies might transform. Let me explain:

Currently, Facebook, Google, and Amazon harvest tons of user data, while providing minimum value to the user. In an ideal scenario, the user should be able to choose if they want to sell their data. Also, they reserve the rights and restrictions on how it’s leveraged.

If we connect the blocks to the existing payment systems and platforms, a user can cherish more control over the information they want to share. Combine DLT with security features like biometric authentication on smartphones to have an additional layer of security and bid goodbye to passwords.

If blockchain overtakes the current opaque system, the blockchain-based decentralized marketplace, Bitclave, gives a glimpse of how things will change.

  • As the BAT ad system becomes available, you can expect the users to receive 70% of the revenue.
BAT System
  • Bitclave will also reward the users for watching ads and give you full control over your personal data.

If the prospects are so exciting, then why hasn’t blockchain been implemented?

Final Thoughts (including challenges with implementing blockchain)

A study by the Stanford Graduate School of Business shows that DLT technology broadly has the following four benefits:

  • Transparency,
  • Immutability,
  • Lower costs,
  • Digital identity.

However, here are the major challenges in its implementation.

Dismantling power structures

The existing centralized entities (including governments, big banks, and financial institutions) are reluctant to give up control. They are risk-averse and “slow” to accept something as innovative as DLT. It could potentially destroy their economic influence.

For blockchain technology to work alongside these stakeholders, the global development community needs to understand how it works. And open-mindedly consider how its use cases and how it adds value to their work.

Value Add of Blockchain

User acceptance

Google and Facebook have considerably altered consumer behavior. Currently, users are happy to give up their data in exchange for free services. They are not even aware of the value they are creating for companies and how their digital lives are at stake.

However, despite the challenges, there’s been some progress:

Estonia has gradually moved its citizen data onto a distributed ledger system. Even Singapore is considering moving towards a Blockchain system to allow citizens to interact seamlessly with government services.

The state of Illinois has also launched a pilot of its blockchain-based registry/ID system.

Illlinois Blockchain Initiative

Blockchain looks promising to solve consumer issues of privacy and give them some control. If it’s accepted and adopted by larger entities, then we could see the cash shift back from corporates and get distributed among the users.

Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

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Answers To 25 Most Searched Patent Related Questions


Every enterprise needs to explain basic terminology and commonly asked questions.  You would be surprised how the most basic questions are never asked.

To get the most engagement with a patent program, training and socialization are key.  Many companies have made patent training part of orientation for their new technical staff.  Periodic refresher courses are also offered. Typically, your patent counsel will offer this training for little or no cost.

This FAQ has a compilation of queries that bubbled up from several large companies from their employees. 

What is a Patent?

A patent is a grant by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office of the right to stop others from making, using or selling an invention in the United States for a limited period of time.  Let’s explore this in detail:

  • A patent is a “grant”, therefore you do not have it until the government awards it to you (in other words, you have no right to enforce a patent against anyone else until the patent has been issued).

  • A patent provides the right to stop others, and not necessarily the right to do anything yourself.  Someone else may have a patent that prevents you from doing anything with your own invention, even though your invention is patentable.

  • A patent gives the right to stop others from making, using or selling.  For example, if someone who was infringing on a patent were to make the invention in a foreign country, he or she could not sell it in the United States. 
    In the same way, it is still considered to be an infringement if the invention is made in the United States but exported immediately, or if a person buys the invention overseas and uses it in the United States for their own use.  There is no “personal use” exception for patent infringement.

  • Patents can only be awarded for inventions.

  • Patents are awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. For that reason, a patent can only be enforced within the United States.

  • A patent has an expiration date.  Once a patent has expired, the invention may be freely used by anyone, as long as no other patent would prevent it. 

What All can be Patented?

Anything under the sun that is human created—any new idea that has not otherwise been disclosed or otherwise published more than a year ago.  There are different kinds of patents, although only the first two will likely be of interest:

  • Provisional Patent — Precursor to a utility patent that serves as a one-year placeholder to quickly secure a filing date while preparing a formal utility patent.

  • Utility Patents — Cover science and technology, such as:
    • Methods or processes, such as software or other functionality
    • Apparatuses and systems (e.g., cell phones, computer systems, point of sale devices, etc.)
    • Chemical compounds and engineered biologicals and their methods of use
    • Improvements or updates to any of the above

  • Design Patents — Cover the ornamental features of useful objects, but not the functionality (e.g., the ridge pattern of a golf club grip, shape of a cell phone).

  • Plant Patents — Cover certain types of plants that are genetically the same.

What cannot be Patented?

  • Mental processes or human performed actions (e.g., medical procedures).

  • Mathematical formulas and algorithms in the abstract, but once applied to a given situation they are candidates for patent protection.

  • Hopes, dreams, aspirations or other abstract ideas unless a technological or scientific solution to achieve them is devised with some specificity.

  • Basic ‘methods of organizing human activity,’ such as fundamental economic practices like market hedging and escrow transactions.

  • Naturally occurring things that have not been invented, but rather found (e.g., genes, minerals) unless you are protecting a refined version or how it is used to solve some problem (e.g., proteins used to cure a specified disease, use of carbon in the form of graphene for a space application).

  • Scientific principles or laws of nature (e.g., gravity, conservation of energy, Pythagorean theorem) unless applied to a specific problem.

  • Inventions that only serve the purpose of making atomic weapons, human-performed healthcare, tax shelters, and a few others.

What Qualities must Something Possess in Order to be Worthy of a Patent?

Generally, any innovation created by humankind and implemented with technology is patentable.  This presumption may be tempered by a discussion with patent counsel, but don’t discount incremental or slight improvements until you have legal guidance.  There are three general requirements for patentability:

  • Novel” means the invention has never been disclosed, released or published by another prior to you inventing it.  Once your innovation is known to others, you only have one year to apply for a patent, but may have lost your overseas rights.  Your own actions in the year prior to your application for patent.

  • Non-obvious” is a legal test not to be confused with the dictionary definition of that term.  It does not mean self-evident as most might presume. Most innovation is fairly derivative, but if your novelty has advantages over prior solutions you are well on your way to overcoming this hurdle.

  • Utility” means that the innovation you invented does something over what is naturally occurring.  It cannot be too abstract an innovation and built with technology. 

Should We Patent Every Innovation?

The pursuit of every patentable innovation would bankrupt most enterprises.  Devising a strategy and trying to accomplish that within a budget will often dictate decisions. 

A process for selecting the best innovation most crucial to protecting our investments in new products and services is the goal.  Legal or members of any patent committee can often provide guidance. 

What will it Cost to Obtain a Patent?

Depending on the complexity of the invention, technology area and amount of argument, the entire process of obtaining a patent can cost between $20,000 and $50,000 in most cases over several years. 

The cost is split between drafting, argument and government fees, some of which occur after issuance in the form of annuities or patent taxes. 

Also Read: 6 Things to Know Before Hiring a Patent Attorney

What Steps are Typical in the Process of Prosecuting a Patent Application?


The inventor completes an Invention Disclosure Form or some other form of written disclosure (such as a white paper) which provides a description of the invention and other important information. 

Sometimes a patent mining session is helpful to brainstorm possible patent ideas and can be facilitated by patent counsel.


There is no requirement to search ourselves as the patent office conducts a thorough search.  Public databases (e.g., Google Patents) allow quick review of what might already be filed, but search vendors can often do a far more effective search.  There are different strategies for searching or not that patent counsel can walkthrough.


Some enterprises formalize approval with a patent committee that looks at the merit of an idea with respect to strategic vision.  It need not be that formal so long as both the technical and strategic considerations are represented as ideas are selected for patent protection.


Patent counsel interviews the inventors to develop a broad understanding of the idea, related technology and how it might evolve.  A draft provisional or non-provisional is produced within one to three months typically.


Once the draft is approved by the inventors, it is filed with the patent office for an examination.  Feedback general comes in 6-24 months depending on whether the filing was fast-tracked.


Only a very small percentage of cases are approved without push back from the patent office.  The argument phase can be as short as 6 months or go on for years. Two-four rounds of argument are typical before allowance.


Issued utility patents expire no matter what 20 years from their earliest priority date. They expire sooner unless escalating government fees are paid at 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 years into their term. 

If I submit an idea related to my job, and it is not approved, can I pursue it on my own?

No, ideas are created as part of your job duties the pursuit or not of patents are within the sole discretion of your employer. That your idea is not approved doesn’t mean that it will never be. A good patent program has an excess of innovation that is strategically pursued so long as budget permits. 

Should you have an idea completely unrelated to your job duties and not developed using company resources may be treated differently so long as any moonlighting policy is complied with.  Legal can review and approve such pursuits and provide written approval. 

How can I tell if my Team’s Invention is Patentable?

Inventors can conduct a novelty search to determine whether any previous patents exist similar to a particular invention. 

It is recommended to use http://patents.Google.com to search patents and literature to at least get a flavor of what others have done in your space that is similar to your innovation.  Other paid tools are available for searching as are third party search firms. 

Who is an Inventor?

The US patent office requires identification of the inventors with full legal name (including any middle initial), address to receive correspondence and city and state of residency.

There are typically 1-5 inventors listed on a patent, but the legal standard on who to include is tricky. On a provisional patent, it is anyone who contributed to the innovation disclosed. Where there are claims, an inventor is anyone who contributed to the conception of one or more of the claims.

Notably, implementers are not necessarily inventors and the same goes for with managers and mentors, etc.  Deception about inventorship can invalidate the patent along with the other members of the patent family so don’t play games with attribution and stick to the legal standard.

Once Patented, Can I Sell or License My Invention?

No, those hired or contracted to invent cede ownership of their innovation to their employer. 

Further, employment/consulting agreements further clarify enterprise ownership of the ideas you develop within the scope of your duties.  Confirmatory assignments are provided throughout the patent process to memorialize this as required by the patent office and foreign patent offices.

If you think your patent would be of interest to others for sale or license, please consult with legal who might pursue such avenues in consult with your management. 

How Long is a Utility Patent Enforceable?

A utility patent is valid from the issuance by the patent office and ends 20 years after the date of filing of the earliest non-provisional application upon which the patent is based. 

There is a patent term extension that will extend that window if the process at the patent office was backlogged through no fault of your own. Plant and design patents have different terms. 

Can a Patent be Extended or Renewed to get a Longer Term?

Not unless patent term extension was recognized by the patent office at the beginning of the patent term or sometimes for delays while pursuing FDA approval. 

Once a patent expires, the claimed invention and anything described is permanently dedicated to the public domain. 

Can we still Obtain a Patent even if My Invention was Released in Our Product or Otherwise Known to Outsiders?

Domestically, you must apply for a patent within one year of the first publication, but most foreign countries bar patent rights any time after publication. 

Would a Knock-off Competitor be Able to Make Minor Changes to Avoid My Patent?

The patent laws contemplate someone designing around your patent claims, but deciding how well that was done is complex.  When determining the scope of your patent, the claims are what defines your right to exclude others.

Patent counsel can assist with interpreting the applicability of claims to the competitor. 

Can’t I Simply Insert a Description of My Invention in a Sealed Envelope and Mail it to Myself, for Protection?

No. Patent protection requires a filing with the patent office as only the government can provide those rights. 

Additionally, it is a race to the patent office as the first filer will almost certainly get the enforceable patent

Does Our Patent Protect Me Worldwide?

No. Rights are given country-by-country with some regional filings possible (e.g., Europe, Africa, Russia) to ease certain parts of the process.  There are treaties that ease your process for obtaining rights in multiple jurisdictions (e.g., Paris Convention & Patent Cooperation Treaty).

It gets expensive very quickly with each jurisdiction costing $25-75K for that geographic protection.  Patent counsel has strategies for maximizing coverage while minimizing expenses.

Also, not all jurisdictions are equal when it comes to enforceability so some are not very good at excluding the competition.

Also Read: Foreign Patent Filing: 5 Strategies to Develop an International Patent Portfolio

Can We Obtain a Patent on My Invention without Disclosing the Important Aspects of My Invention?

Generally no.  The government grants a limited monopoly for your patent claims in exchange for full disclosure.  There are strategies for keeping some ideas out of a patent that your counsel can help with. 

Not being a U.S. citizen and/or Resident, Can I Still Obtain a U.S. Patent?

Yes.  You can get a U.S. patent, but some countries require permission to file overseas first. Patent counsel can research the specifics and devise a filing strategy. 

Should We File a Provisional Application?

A provisional patent simply lets you secure a filing date without going through all the steps required for a utility patent application.  With the limited formality required, provisional patents are often the only thing possible given a certain time crunch.  For example, a paper describing a product may be going public tomorrow, and that paper might be quickly filed as a provisional patent.  Since a provisional patent is never examined or confers any rights, a regular utility patent application is required within a year anyway. 

Should I File a Patent with the Patent Office on My Own?

No.  Please coordinate with legal who handles this on a regular basis and has a relationship with counsel. 

When do I say “Patent Pending” or “Patented?”

“Patent pending” for a product simply means that you have a patent application on file at the U.S. Patent Office. 

You can mark your product “Patent Pending” only if you have filed a patent application that would cover part of the marked product, and the application has not been abandoned or withdrawn. 

“Patented” means that the patent is issued and not expired. Listing the patent numbers covering the product somewhere on the box, enclosed materials, on the product itself, or virtually on the web site is recommended.

How do I read a Patent and Understand the Scope?

The claims define the scope of the right while the remainder of the patent application provides context, clarification and additional detail.  A patent claim is simply a statement, but it can be very difficult to read so reach out to counsel to help.

What are Annuities/Maintenance Fees/Patent Taxes?

Patent offices around the world have schemes to encourage pruning of patents by charging fees even after issuance.

Consider abandoning your patent when those fees come due to give your non-strategic ideas to the public domain.  These government fees are a great funding source paid by those with the more important patents. For larger and/or international patent portfolios, most will use an annuity service to pay these fees in a process similar to what you might have done with your favorite domain registrar who tacks on a service fee to each renewal.

If you only have US patents, payment at the USPTO.gov site is fairly straightforward so you might avoid service, but be sure to not miss the deadlines of 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 years from the issuance of your utility application.

What is a Patent Troll?

The pejorative term describes an entity that does not currently produce anything, yet owns and asserts patents against others. 

Sometimes called a non-practicing entity (NPE), the only purpose of these companies is to pursue license revenue while threatening suit. 

Commonly, the settlement amounts are very low to avoid having any defendant truly challenge a patent. Targets are faced with the prospect of fighting assertion at great legal expense or quickly disposing of the suit.

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Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

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Foreign Patent Filing: 5 Strategies to Develop an International Patent Portfolio

Foreign Patent Filings Strategy and Insights

Should you protect your invention in 4 countries or 16 countries or 100 countries?

If you ask your patent attorney, the typical advice is to just file patents across all international jurisdictions in which your products are made, used, or sold.

On the face of it, the suggestion may look good.

You have a product or a technology that may have a worldwide market and so worldwide protection seems valuable. But this is rudimentary thinking and may not maximize your limited patent budget.

I have seen companies – big and small, doing a ton of due diligence before investing millions of dollars on a new product line, a new technology innovation, or on R&D. But surprisingly the same companies commit to a $1 million patent strategy without doing any due diligence.

I wonder why companies spend so much money securing a patent in Saudi Arabia when your market was in the US and Europe alone. As a strategy owner of the company, you must ensure that capital-intensive patent filing exercise must show positive ROI over years.

This is because companies often file foreign patents and grow their patent portfolios without a clear strategy resulting in bad investments and out of budget patent costs.

You would understand the cost-effective process of filing international patents with these 5 steps.

Validate your business need (if unsure when to go for foreign filing)

The first question that I would consider before filing a foreign patent is whether there is a strong business need?

When I say a strong business need…..

Is that a market you want to protect?

Do you see making money in that country?

Think for a while….

If you are unsure, I would prefer a strategy that delays the filing of foreign patents until the latest possible moment so that you can test your market meanwhile.

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) allows preserving international rights for most jurisdictions to delay choosing specific ones for thirty months from your earliest priority date.

This strategy gives you the longest possible time to evaluate the commercial prospects of your innovation before committing large funds to the foreign patent application process.

Now, it makes sense to file for foreign patents if a market indeed has a strong enterprise value to protect in the next twenty years.

Also, you have to consider your business model and see how it fits into your patent strategy.

For example, we are seeing a huge explosion of innovation in  AI and machine learning as of today.

If your company is dealing with AI technology and your business model is a function of the population, then China and India would be the markets to file foreign patents.

Europe would be the market to file foreign patents if your business model is a function of per capita income given that European countries are relatively affluent.

Therefore, understanding your business goals and business model is very important to carefully craft a global patent portfolio strategy.

Tip: Along with validating your business needs, one way to develop a foreign filing strategy is to conduct a worldwide patent search on the key foreign patents of your competitors. This will provide you with a list of baseline countries where patents are valued by your competitors and by your industry.

Protect your patent budget from misdirected investments and out of control costs

What’s the point of spending $70,000 on filing a patent in Japan?

It’s very difficult to get a patent in Japan’s patent office and extremely difficult to enforce that patent against a Japanese company.

You should check the effective cost to file a patent in a particular country. The basic cost to file a patent per country can be anywhere between $25,000 and $70,000 (depending upon the country) over the 20-year life of patents.

This means a simple patent filed across 10 different countries would cost you at least $250,000 over the life cycle of patents.

Complex patents can cost more.

Stage Total Estimated Costs
Filing (with necessary translation costs) $5,000 – $10,000
Prosecution (argument phase) $3,000 – $5,000 (per round)
Issuance and Miscellaneous legal fees $5,000
Government fees (filing, issuance and maintenance) $10,000 – $30,000

So understand the likely returns before committing large sums of money even if you are a company with deep pockets.

A strategic way to do this would be to leverage your patent attorney’s (or your law firm’s) relationship with the local law firms of those countries where you plan to file a patent.

Also read: Here’s the 6 things to know before hiring a patent attorney

Pick the local law firms that give you the right advise on

  • the likelihood of receiving a patent
  • your end-to-end costs
  • patent strategy
  • practicality of patent enforcement

Let me give you another example of how to optimize your patent budget by adapting the right strategy.

Let’s compare a particular drug that has only three patents protecting it with a mobile phone that has thousands of patents on it. The value of one additional patent on that drug is much higher than one additional patent on the mobile phone because there are just three patents on the drug.

Meaning, density of patents should be considered before you decide to file patents- foreign or domestic.

If it’s a super dense thicket, each patent has a relatively smaller value. If it’s a sparse thicket, every single patent is worth a substantially more presuming the market value of each product is the same.

For electronics and software technology, I wouldn’t recommend to file patents overseas because each has a smaller value.

Similarly, IoT (Internet of Things) is another technology which has become a dense thicket. When IoT was just emerging a few years ago, it was a sparse thicket and so filing patents would have made sense then.

Consider the latest hot technology Artificial Intelligence.

According to World Intellectual Property Organization, 3054 patents on artificial intelligence which includes machine and deep learning were filed between 2007 and 2017. Of those patents 1030 were applied for in the United States, 674 in China, 467 in Korea, and the remainder in other countries.

In each of those countries, patents were filed both by domestic companies as well as foreign companies seeking protection in those markets.

When it comes to deep learning, an advanced subset of machine learning, Chinese companies hold hundreds of patents in China.

From a sparse patent thicket, machine and deep learning are slowly moving towards a dense patent thicket in US, China, and other countries.

Take a look at the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies below.


Anything that is high in the hype cycle is moving towards the dense thicket.

As such, if you were an enterprise or an inventor innovating with deep learning, machine learning, or connected home technology (IoT), for example, proceed cautiously with filing foreign patents in these areas so as to utilize your patent budget effectively.

A better strategy would be to file patents only in those countries where:

  • When the density of patents in your technology area is sparse
  • the likelihood of getting a patent is high
  • the legal system in the country is fair when enforcing patent rights of foreign companies

Know which countries to file and which to avoid (using two-thirds market filing strategy)

One approach that can help you in identifying which countries to file patents in and which ones to avoid is the two-thirds market filing strategy.

In other words, you should file in a limited number of jurisdictions that cover the most lucrative percentage of the market.

For example, if your business model is a function of population and if two-thirds of your market is in United States, China, India, Indonesia, and Europe alone, then your patent application pursued in these jurisdictions would capture the majority of worldwide revenue.

While the costs for filing patents in these countries might be higher vis-a-vis United States, it still would be less expensive than trying to file patents in a larger amount countries across the world for a small fraction of the market.

From a cost-benefit point of view, you might miss out on only one-third of the market but have protection in the remaining two-thirds of the key market. The remainder of the market would be too costly to protect and likely include jurisdictions where enforcing your patent wouldn’t make sense anyway.

Importantly, from the economies of scale perspective, you have an enormous competitive advantage as your exclusive geography of patent protection in the key two-thirds market deters your competitors from even entering the unprotected one-third market.

That’s because once you take away the major 67% of the market, it is very difficult for your competitors to gear up for the remaining 33% of the market as they no longer have the economies of scale advantage.

The remaining market is small, scattered and difficult to capitalize on.

I know of company which was ready to commit about $5,000 – $10,000 to file in every possible country (some 177 countries participate in the Paris Convention) to incur a seven figure amount just to begin pursuit of one idea worldwide. Upon applying the two third market filing strategy it made sense to file patents in only 4 countries, bringing down the total cost of filing to a low five figure amount.

Therefore, the key is to place the bets on the right countries that cover the most lucrative percentage of the market for your product/technology.

Be wary of unfriendly jurisdictions for software & business methods and other innovation

What is common among companies such as Mastercard, Paypal, WebMD, Blackboard, 23andMe, LinkedIn, Spotify?

They are all disruptors driven by innovative software and business method models in Fin Tech, Health Tech, Ed Tech, and other areas.

Software includes applications, programs or underlying algorithms and processes that run on computers or mobile phones.  Business methods are processes of doing traditionally human performed tasks using little or no substantial technology.

More often than not for companies in the Fin Tech, Health Tech, and Ed Tech areas, the foreign patent you want to file is related to either software or business methods.

Software and business methods patents face significant patent eligibility challenges both in US and most foreign countries.

In fact, some places like New Zealand, India and Europe are known to be unfriendly jurisdictions for software and/or business methods patents.

Europe, in particular, is very difficult for software and business methods patents as the onus is upon the patent applicant to prove that the invention actually makes a contribution in a technical field by solving a technical problem. New Zealand just prohibits software patents altogether.

Most countries have their own set of requirements when it comes to software related inventions and business methods.

Japan, for example, allows business methods to be patented so long as they include technical features in the claims.

In Australia, software inventions are patentable provided that a mode or manner of achieving an end result using technology is claimed.

In South Korea, software related inventions are considered patentable provided the software is combined with a hardware such as a computer. And pure business methods are not considered patentable unless combined with the technical layer.

Point being, while your business goals and budget might encourage securing patent rights in a number of foreign jurisdictions, you need to estimate the likelihood of patentability for your inventions particularly the ones involving software and business methods.

Tip: Have your patent counsel consult with a foreign associate in each jurisdiction before wasting a filing so that they can opine on your particular patent claims. A good foreign associate will give you the right advice prior to filing without charge.

Evaluate your business goals before developing a foreign patent strategy (like using your patents to get acquired)

In 2011, Google acquired Motorola for a whopping $12.5 billion dollars. People thought that the acquisition happened because Google wanted to compete in the handset space by acquiring the market leader.

But there was more to that strategy.

As this Forbes article “How Google Used Motorola to smack down Samsung” says, Google acquired Motorola so that it could leverage Motorola’s 20,000 mobile patents to stop Samsung from promoting its proprietary OS at the cost of Android.

Some believe it was all about patents.

Similarly, Apple picked up three European patents and seven PCT applications with its purchase of an augmented reality startup “Metaio” in the year 2015 and the acquisition could help Apple bolster its virtual reality and augmented reality efforts.

Whether you are a company or a startup, understanding your business goals is key to developing a robust foreign patent strategy.

  • Is your goal to use your international patent portfolio to get acquired?
  • Are you looking to enforce your patent rights against your competition?
  • Is your goal to use your patent portfolio to defend yourself?
  • Is your goal to use your patents to gain exclusive market access?
  • Are you looking to use your patents in cross licensing and partnerships?
  • Is your monetization plan just to license your patent portfolio?

For example, if your goal is to use your overseas patents to get acquired then you need to have a foreign patent strategy that is likely to match the strategy of whoever is trying to acquire you.

But, how do you know who is going to acquire you?

One way to understand the typical foreign patent footprint is to do a landscape study and zero in on candidate companies.

These companies could be your competitors or the ones that want to expand their business into your space.

Understanding what these potential acquirers are doing with their own patent portfolio so you file patents accordingly in those foreign jurisdictions to avoid missing something that would stand in the way of getting acquired.

Different foreign patent filing options (which route is best)

You can directly file your patent in almost any country on earth.

But a more prudent approach would be to delay the substantial cost of foreign filings while you test your innovation in the market.

It would be nice to delay forever but most foreign countries adhere to an absolute novelty standard which means you must secure a priority date by filing your patent before any release or disclosing of your innovation.

There are several strategies and treaties that allow the filing of foreign national applications to be delayed.

For example, there are 177 countries which have adopted the Paris Convention that allows use of your filing date in signatory countries if done within one year.  A subset of 152 countries have also adopted the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) that allows for centralized review of your patent application to delay foreign filing for around 2.5 years from your earliest filing.

These programs can delay foreign filing for 12-30 months from your US filing with the PCT route giving some feedback on your prospects of receiving patent rights.

Almost no one does direct filings except for the few countries that might not be in the Paris Convention such as Taiwan and Burma.

Most companies file a US patent followed by a PCT application within 12 months to comply with the Paris Convention. That gives another 18 months for the PCT phase to delay nationalization decisions for 30 months from the original US filing.

The delay afforded by this strategy provides time to validate the market potential of your patent idea (innovation).

Some companies forgo the US filing and start with a PCT filing and circle back to the US filing within 30 months. This is probably the least expensive foreign portfolio strategy but delays the allowance of your US patent which may be the most important market to have a patent.

One good advantage to the PCT filing is that if the patent examination finds no troubling issues, you can accelerate national filings in many countries to cut delays as your application moves to front of the line.

The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is one such program that recognizes the hard work done in the PCT phase by speeding up the examination process to reduce the workload in each country.


Image Source: USPTO

The below chart shows which countries have PPH programs with others




Your patent attorney should be able to tailor the possible options to match your portfolio strategy, timing and budgets.  Although daunting, a foreign patent strategy makes strong sense so long as it aligns with your strategic direction without breaking the bank in that pursuit.


Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

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6 Things to Know Before Hiring a Patent Attorney

6 Things to Know Before Hiring a Patent Attorney

So, you want to hire a patent attorney to protect your new innovation. It could be for AI, Blockchain, Machine learning, IoT, or some other cutting edge technology that you are developing.

You have already met an attorney but had no clue whether you were receiving the right advice. Lawyers are not inexpensive and IP attorneys tend to have hourly rates that are 50% more than others

It takes around 3 years for a patent to be granted with hot technology generally being slower.

According to US Patents and Trademark office 629,647 total patent applications filed in the year 2015.  On average, about two thirds of those applications will issue eventually, but the likelihood of receiving a patent varies wildly with certain technologies having only a 10% chance of success.

Although it might be impossible to find one who will admit it, but not all patent attorneys are equal.  

None can predict exactly how difficult it will be to get your application allowed after filing and each round of argument is expensive.  Depending on the technology area, it can take 2-4 rounds of argument on average, but there are some who take far more or less with you paying for each round.

So you better hire the best attorney who understands your innovation, business needs, and looks out for your best interests.

But, how do you know which patent attorney or firm is right to hire for your innovation?

Can you hire a attorney with any kind of background for your technology?

Well, for starters, you need to hire a patent attorney who is registered to practice before the US Patent and Trademark Office by having passed the patent bar exam. To do so they need to have a technical background demonstrated by a degree in science, engineering, or equivalent to even qualify to take the patent bar exam.

You can also hire a patent agent who is authorized to represent inventors pursing their patents before the Patent Office by taking the same patent bar exam and having a technical degree without also being a lawyer. Patent agents can administratively pursue your patent, but cannot represent you on appeal or in front of a judge so their help is somewhat limited.

But more often that not, hiring just any random patent attorney is leaving too much to chance. There are a host of other important factors that you need to consider such as

  • Appropriate technology background
  • Strategic guidance
  • Experience with patents
  • Success rates
  • Speed of patent prosecution
  • Value measured in overall cost

In this article, I am going to talk about these factors and share the strategies for hiring the best of the patent attorneys learned over two decades of practice in the field.

If you want to download this article to read it at a later date, download the pdf below:

Never hire an attorney without an end-to-end cost estimate

Patent rights last for up to 20 years from the date the idea was first filed. And it could be 3 or more years before a patent is granted. Given such long time frames, it is in your best interests to ask your patent attorney to give a ballpark estimate of the costs that you would incur during this entire period.  

Often, attorneys simply quote the cost for drafting the application without the argument costs, government fees, etc.  It is typical for an attorney to say it will be $10K for your patent, but they are forgetting the $2K government fee for filing, $4K per round of argument, annuity fees of $7-13K, etc.

A more honest answer is $30-40K spread over the 20 year period of the patent term.

These are the questions you should be asking your patent attorney before engaging their services

  • How much do they charge to obtain a patent on my type of innovation on average?
  • What techniques are used to minimize or avoid churn in the argument phase?
  • What’s the cost curve over the lifetime of the process?
  • Can you give me an estimate for this year and through expiration of the patent?

Inventors have no idea what innovation tends to be expensive to obtain a patent and you would be surprised to find that simple technology is often more expensive to patent.

Typically your end-to-end costs would include

  • Any patentability searching which is optional before drafting
  • Legal fees for drafting your application
  • Government filing fees
  • Legal fees for each round of argument along with an estimate on the number of rounds
  • Government fees for more than two rounds of argument
  • Miscellaneous attorney and government fees throughout the process
  • Government issue fees
  • Government maintenance fees after issuance

Moreover, all these costs, including the attorney fees, would vary depending upon

  • How complex or simple the invention is
  • The type of patent application (provisional or non provisional)
  • Technology area with some requiring twice the writing budget over others

The patent office favors complexity over simplicity, so easy to understand innovation often requires a deeper explanation of the underlying technology which leads to the counter intuitive notion that simple innovation is more expensive to patent.

Similarly, utility patent fees (non provisional) differs from provisional patent fees as seen below.

Patent Application Filing FeesLarge EntitySmall EntityMicro Entity
Provisional Filing Fee$280 $140$70
Utility Filing Fee (Non-Provisional)$1,720$785$430
Design Filing Fee$960$480$240
Reissue Filing Fee$3,160$1,580$790

Also Read Foreign Patent Filing: 5 Strategies to Develop an International Patent Portfolio

Not listed above are the maintenance government fees to keep the patent in force after allowance that accrue at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years into the patent term and total to $12,600 for a large entity, half that for a small entity, and half again for a micro entity.  

A good attorney can provide you with a complete breakdown of the estimated costs over the life cycle of your patent so that you can plan your finances before diving into the patent process.

Don’t fall for cheap hourly rates

Many inventors and tech companies hire attorneys who charge low hourly fees, but the real analysis is more complex.  

Let’s say you have two attorneys, one charges $250 an hour while a more experienced attorney charges $500 an hour. Often the higher rate comes with better efficiency such that a better draft might be done in far less time. Both options typically will promise a similar writing cost of $8K-15K depending on technology area and complexity or lack thereof.

While the lower billing rate may seem beneficial, this is a fatal mistake.

Your patent application draft is often the most important part of the process so is not the place to cut corners.

Most attorneys charge within 20% plus or minus to draft a patent application of each other regardless of hourly rates.  

The better draft from the more experienced attorney will typically have less difficulty gaining allowance at the patent office.  

That initial savings from a less experienced attorney will cost you as the patent application is excessively churned at the patent office. Alternatively, the flaws in your patent drafting could make assertion difficult or impossible such that the strategy may result in a worthless patent.

Billing rate is a factor but total drafting costs, minimizing churn, and an enforceable patent are equally important in making a decision.

Hiring a better patent attorney, while expensive hourly, is in your best interests and should be seen as an investment in your IP assets.

Similarly, don’t just hire a patent attorney who picks up your phone when you call a law firm. Usually, these are the least busy ones and may not be a right fit as your patent counsel.

Instead, seek a referral from a mentor or look up the firm’s website and find the best technology fit for your innovation. Don’t hesitate to contact them as most patent attorneys are happy to meet with you, free of charge for an hour or so prior to any commitment.

Tip: Another way to find the best patent attorney in your field of invention is to look for people who are most active in the tech scene. Experienced and respectable attorneys often write papers, publish articles, conduct seminars, and speak at important events.

Look for innovation attorney fit

You know how important it is to find a product-market fit before scaling up the business.

Similarly, you should find innovation-attorney fit before allocating the low five figures for the patent filing.

For example, you are an AI startup that is revolutionizing health care by reducing drug discovery times by predicting how molecules are likely to react with each other. That’s cutting edge AI.  

So, you would want to hire a patent attorney who has expertise in AI & healthcare that understands the technology you are developing and can draft a winning patent application.

Because attorneys charge hourly, a patent attorney who is slow to learn your technology is costly and probably results in poorer work product.

Let’s take another example.

You are a company working on developing a blockchain based securities platform that connects issuers and investors in a peer-to-peer network with settlement times a fraction of the conventional wait times.

Now, you would want a patent attorney who has experience dealing with blockchain & financial services to quickly understand your innovation over what the big financial firms have already filed in this space and, if so, what should your filing strategy be.

Point being, hiring an experienced, reputable patent attorney is just not enough. Finding an attorney that can quickly understand your innovation is key to efficiency.

Therefore, a rule of thumb is to ask yourself the following questions when vetting a patent attorney

  • Does the patent attorney has expertise in the technology you are developing?
  • How familiar are they with the part of the patent office examining your cases?
  • How many patents have they filed in your technology area and what results are typical?
  • If you lack inside legal counsel, can they describe the process using terminology you understand?
  • Are they experienced working with companies of your size or funding cycle such that they can explain the strategies?

Tip: Many law firms share their attorney profiles which includes their technical background and the areas of expertise. Additionally, you can look up their LinkedIn profile to get a sense of their technical background and experience along with the articles they have published.

Know your attorney’s strategy

You would be surprised to know how many enterprises do not have a well thought-out patent strategy, impacting the success of their businesses.

More budget is lost in pursuit of the wrong patent strategy than any hiring choice.  

The strategy joke in the patent industry is “If you are going to ask your attorney on how many patents you should file, your attorney would ask how many can you afford.”  Seriously.

Meaning, they be biased toward a gold-plated approach only throttled by your ability to afford it. (Patent attorneys tend to be risk averse).  

Plus, there is the obvious moral hazard with any vendor that realizes more profit in an aggressive approach.  

For example, attorney may file patents in areas that the patent office rarely rewards with a patent. Also, they may not invest the time and effort to draft a patent application that will fly through the process.

Impossible patent odds with very determined effort will quickly zap your legal budget.

There are tools available to empirically predict the likelihood of allowance for different technologies. Triangle IP for instance can predict the likelihood of allowance which will help you know your odds of getting a patent issued.

So, make sure your attorney understands

  • Why you need a patent (attract funding or exit, licensing revenue, competitor threat, etc)
  • Ask what are the different options to best utilize your budget this year while understanding the costs through completion of the process
  • The competitive landscape for your industry to scale your patent portfolio

A good attorney would listen to all of the above, ask questions about your business model, review the landscape to find out what your competitors are doing, what kind of patents are they filing, and would then come up with a pragmatic patent strategy to provide the most value for the least cost.

Find the one who is empathetic to your success.

For example, today AI and Machine Learning is being taken very seriously all over the world and is on the way to becoming a mainstream adoption in the years to come.

No wonder that startups dealing with AI technology in different domains are working fast to get patents to capture a lion’s share for their respective products in the market.

                                                Image Source: CBINSIGHTS

If you are a startup in the AI field, reviewing the above list for familiar competitors will provide a guidepost for how aggressively you might invest in capturing your innovation with patents.  For example, if you are entering the cognitive computing space knowing that Digital Reasoning has 6 patents will signal that you may also want that many or even more if they continue to file patents.  

Therefore, knowing how many patents to file and the likelihood of success along with a strategy focused on achieving your goals inexpensively will provide the most value from your patent attorney.

Choose an attorney who success rate is greater than industry average

Patent attorneys are abundant and most perform within industry norms, but attorneys with high success rates are scarce.

In difficult technology areas, it is not uncommon to find attorneys with substantially higher allowance rates with far less rounds of argument with the patent office.

For instance, for a business method client we were getting patents granted over 90% of the time when the industry average was a mere 10%. Which means, from a yield perspective others had to file 10 patents to get one granted whereas we had to file 1.1 patents to achieve the same.  

In terms of costs, most counsel are within 20% of each other when writing a patent and doing each round of argument, but the better performing attorneys will always cost less when yield is taken into account.

Therefore, success rate matters.

While a good patent counsel would transparently share success rates, few clients will even ask since they presume that all patent attorneys achieve the same outcomes. But that is not the reality.

And this is where the Triangle IP tool can help you by accurately predicting the success rate of your attorney for your technology along with other analytics.  

Since success rate can swallow all other factors in choosing a counsel, find a patent attorney who has a track record of winning.


Say no to attorneys who excessively churn during the argument phase

There are some half million patent applications waiting for examination and even more if you count those being actively argued.

Some patents are approved quickly while others take much longer. It depends upon many factors such as how simple or complex your innovation is, the quality of your patent draft, the advocacy skill of your attorney, the patent office stats for that type of technology, the scope of your innovation etc.

Having said that, the skill of your patent attorney plays a far important role in deciding how quickly you can get a patent with the best counsel averaging one round of argument until allowance.

A genuine, skilled attorney can estimate the number of rounds to patent allowance and will see that your innovation is in condition for allowance within the estimated number of rounds.

With each round costing $3-5K on average, saving one round results in substantial cost savings as well.

For example, my patent practice involves taking over prosecution gone bad. In a recent case, prior counsel was still unsuccessful after 14 rounds of argument with the patent office costing the client over $50K in legal and government fees.

For that same client, we averaged a little more than one round of argument and were able to resolve that over-churned case in just one more interaction with the patent office.

The best attorneys understand the real issues and quickly get it so that they can be fixed for quick results. Meeting with the examiner, for example, is extremely helpful, but rarely done with paper argument being favored by those with worse statistics.

But how do you know if your attorney is a skilled negotiator when arguing your cases?

After all, the patent office does not provide these statistics.

Triangle IP tool can accurately estimate the number of rounds to patent allowance for each of your cases. With the help of the tool, you will know how much effort to expect in arguing your case through the patent office.

If you like this article, join us where we share patent information that matters to you. Don’t worry, we only send emails that we feel are highly relevant for you. 🙂

Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

TIP Tool is free for your whole team

No credit card required. No setup fees. No need to download.