Prior art searches
Most startups begin directing attention to intellectual property only once they are well into their research programs. In fact, prior art searches, conducted early, can help startups navigate around patent shoals and toward choosing more promising, less congested areas.
Integrating IP with the R&D and business strategies
Moreover, patent input later in the research phase can help guide the research program to define precisely which features are critical to making an invention work. That knowledge, coupled with that from the prior art search, enables drafting the strongest and broadest claims possible, while minimizing the likelihood of encompassing any prior art in the claims. Furthermore, such input can also suggest what experimental work would provide the best support for those claims, helping to avoid enablement rejections.
The payoff – saving time and money, while simultaneously building value
Patent applications with surgically precise claims, thoroughly enabled by relevant experimental work, are much more likely to be allowed quickly by the Patent Office – thereby saving money and, most importantly, time – in patent prosecution. And, of course, having a key patent actually issue before a round of financing, or before concluding a strategic partnership, can dramatically improve the value realized by the company as explained by InventHelp.
Even companies that realize the value of integrating IP with research, however, often do not do so for practical reasons. Few startups can afford full-time in-house patent counsel, and therefore must look to outside counsel. Companies really need not just services in filing and prosecuting patent applications, but objective assistance in
- performing prior art searches, particularly of the patent literature;
- operating an effective invention disclosure program;
- ensuring that notebooks are properly documented;
- conducting the research to maximize the value of the resulting IP;
- filing provisional applications quickly and inexpensively, and
- deciding when, what, and indeed whether to file regular and overseas patent applications.
These are matters for which outside counsel may not be either affordable or entirely appropriate. Ideally such assistance would come from someone well-versed in the research enterprise, such as InventHelp, as well as patent law, who can work closely with startups on IP issues on a regular basis without breaking the bank as seen in Invent Help reviews.