Step 3: How to protect your invention with a patent

Imagine you create the next best thing since sliced bread and then someone else gets rich off your idea. It’s not a pretty picture and so you might want to consider protecting your invention with a patent. This post, part 3 in a series on creating a product for sale online, covers patents in a basic way for creative types.

I invented a creative thinking game in January. I did a round of beta/test game cards and had a ton of fun with them and got a bunch of feedback from people. The feedback inspired me to make several design changes. Most importantly I come to the conclusion that I was ready to move forward with the idea and that means formatting and protecting my idea.

Provisional Patents

There is a time limit on the process of protecting ideas in a patent. With the recent changes in the patent process it’s no longer ‘first to invent’ it is ‘first to file’. In addition you have a limit of 1 year from when you go public with an idea to protect it officially or it becomes public domain. As a creative type understanding how the legal world looks at things is not 100% intuitive. (Please contact an actual patent lawyer for official advice).

An official patent is expensive. As a first time inventor I’m not sure if my idea will make money or not so I decided to file a provisional patent. It’s the first step in the process. The cost is minimal – just $65 if you qualify for their micro fee – for first time inventors. The paperwork is a little tricky but all the info was easily accessible online. With the provisional patent you have 1 year before you have to file an official patent – having to invent more money in the idea.

Writing a Provisional Patent

Figuring out how to format my idea for the patent was a more complicated process. It was really helpful to use the google patent search and see how other patents were formatted. The basic content, which gets sent in, is the description of the invention and the images. For my game I ended up with 2 pages of text and 11 images. I looked at my idea and described it in two ways – the apparatus and the method. I read examples on google patent search for insights.

Here is the short description I wrote for my game:

Chaos Odyssey – creative thinking game is a method and apparatus for developing creative thinking skills and abilities. The game is ideal to play at transitional moments in life. Individuals or groups who wish to switch their mode of thinking, for example from work to play at the end of the day, will appreciate this game. The game method uses concepts of psychology and is designed to teach mentally therapeutic creative skills and abilities through play.

Next Steps

After the provisional patent has been filed it’s time to really test out your idea! For me this will involve purchasing inventory, updating my existing marketing materials and putting effort into sales. I’ll keep you posted on the progress!