When having developed a new product or a good idea for an invention, the question rapidly arises whether to apply for a patent.
It is often worthwhile to put the idea down in writing to explore it from different angles. In this context, especially the problems encountered during product development should be noted. Solved problems and overcome obstacles are often a reliable guidance to patentable aspects of an invention
There are two basic requirements that have to be met for an invention to be patentable.
It has to be new.
It has to involve an inventive step.
Both requirements relate to the state of the art, that is to say, material that is publicly available on a global scale. It is therefore advisable to start out by having a look at the state of the art. This could, for example, be done by using the Internet or different libraries to search what is available on the market. Furthermore, published patent documents or articles may reveal known products and related technology.
It is often advisable not to become discouraged by known products that appear similar to a given invention. These known products may utilize a different mechanism, or may achieve a different goal.
Patent attorneys offer professional guidance with respect to any state-of-the-art material that has been found. It is part of a patent attorney’s daily routine to analyze the state of the art, and to evaluate it with respect to new products and ideas.
Even if the state of the art may, at first glance, already comprise the new product or method, a patent attorney will often be able to find a patentable angle to it.
Already prior to the initial meeting, it may be of advantage to provide the patent attorney with an idea of the invention, so that he might even be able to conduct a state-of-the-art search as described above.
The patent attorney will typically base this search on the above-mentioned written notes, pictures of a prototype, potential drawings of the new invention, or the results of any previous searches.
A good patent attorney will ask for so many details and explanations as possible, which sometimes exceed the inventor’s expectations. Many details may appear obvious to an inventor who has spent much time on his invention. However, these details may well be unobvious to people that look at the subject from a fresh angle, as for example patent attorneys or technical illustrators.
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