Start Protecting Your IP
Protecting your IP does not have to be confusing. This is a simple guide to help you filter out the noise and focus on the basics. If you need to consult with an IP attorney, make sure to talk to a registered patent attorney who is licensed to practice before the US Patent and Trademark Office.
See our helpful IP checklists below to get started in protecting your patents and trademarks. Make sure to check our flat rate patent and trademark attorney’s fees.
How to Start Your Trademark Application
How do you start a trademark application? If you have the flexibility to pivot to a new mark, then a knockout search may make sense. A trademark search would be less helpful if you have started using your mark and have little flexibility to change.
- Avoid Descriptive Words: Is your mark too descriptive of your goods and services? Recognize the risk of a merely descriptive rejection.
- Trademark Search: Is your mark too similar to other registered trademarks? Consider a knockout search to assess the risk of a likelihood of confusion rejection.
- Actual use or Intent-To-Use? Have you already started using the mark to sell your products or services? If not, consider filing an Intent-To-Use application where no dates or evidence of trademark use (specimens) are required upfront. Note that an ITU application will incur additional costs for the subsequent submission of specimens of use.
- Number of Classes of Goods or Services: The number of classes of goods or services will determine the cost of filing your trademark application. We can help you determine the number of classes when you send us your list of goods and services.
- Dates of First Use and Specimens: If your trademark application is based on actual use, be prepared to provide the dates of first use and specimens of use.
Trademark Costs and Timing by IP Attorney Vic Lin
For our flat trademark filing fees, see our Trademark Cost Section.
Time for knockout search: 1 to 3 business days.
Time for preparing trademark application: 1 business day.
To get started on your trademark application, request our Trademark Form.
How to Start Your Design Patent Application
Before you start this IP filing, make sure you understand that design patents protect the ornamental appearance of your product. A design patent protects how your product looks. Utility patents protect how products work. If your product has any unique functional features, consider a utility patent application as well.
Design Patent Checklist
- Ornamental vs. Functional Features: Make sure you want to protect how your product looks.
- Any prior public disclosures? Make sure your design has not been disclosed to the public or sold more than a year ago. US patent law provides inventors with a 1-year grace period. Foreign patents might be unavailable if your design has already been publicly disclosed.
- Rocket Docket: It takes about 2 to 3 years to get a design patent. You can speed up examination by filing a Rocket Docket. In most cases, you will obtain your design patent in less than one year. A Rocket Docket request will require a prior art search and incur extra costs for the search and additional USPTO fees.
- 3D file or photos? It’s best to provide a 3D file of your product, such as a STP or CAD file. If you do not have a 3D file, be prepared to send photos of your product from the required views (front, rear, top, bottom, left and right).
Design Patent Costs and Timing by IP Attorney Vic Lin
For flat fee design patent costs, see our Design Patent Cost Section.
Time for design patent drawings: 5-8 business days.
Rocket Docket prior art search: 3-5 business days.
Time to prepare and file a US design patent application: about 2 weeks
To get started on your design patent application, request our Design Patent Form.
How to Start Your Utility Patent Application
Of all IP rights, the utility patent application process is arguably the longest and most expensive. That is not to say you should avoid utility patents. Just recognize what you’re getting into when you start this IP filing.
Utility Patent Checklist by IP Attorney Vic Lin
- Have you already publicly shown your concept? Make sure your concept or product has not been disclosed or sold to the public for over a year. You have a 1-year grace period from the earliest date of public disclosure to apply for US patents. Any publicly disclosed concepts might be ineligible for foreign patent protection.
- Patentability Search: Novelty searches are optional. There are pros and cons to searching the prior art before filing a utility patent. Pros include a better idea of what already exists and where to focus your claims. Cons include the additional costs and time for doing the search, as well as the duty to inform the USPTO of known prior art references.
- Invention Disclosure: You do not need to use any particular form, but you do need to provide a written description of your invention.
- Drawings: Unless you plan to file a chemical patent application, be prepared to provide visuals that help the patent attorney to visualize your concept.
- Provisional or Nonprovisional: Are you ready to file the regular utility patent application known as the nonprovisional? If not, do you want to start by filing a provisional patent application (PPA)? Keep in mind the 12-month deadline to upgrade your provisional to a nonprovisional.
- Budget: We provide flat rate estimates for drafting and filing your utility patent application. This initial filing estimate does not include subsequent costs such as Office Action responses, which most likely will arise.
- Ongoing Prosecution: 90% of utility nonprovisional patent applications will receive at least one Office Action. Unless your application is expedited, expect Office Action rejections at about 1.5 to 2 years from your nonprovisional filing date. Office Action responses range from $950 to $3,500 depending upon the specific rejections. Here’s a rough estimate of how much a patent costs from start to finish.
Utility Patent Costs and Timing
For flat rate utility patent costs, see our Utility Patent Cost Section. To request a flat fee estimate for filing your utility patent application, call US patent attorney Vic Lin at (949) 223-9623 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to explore protecting your concept.
The cost of drafting and filing a provisional patent application is about 50% of our nonprovisional initial filing estimate.
Time for filing a utility patent application: about 3-4 weeks
To get started on your utility patent application, request our Invention Disclosure Form.
Need to expedite your provisional or nonprovisional filing? Ask us about filing your utility patent application in a shorter amount of time at no extra cost.
How to Choose an IP Attorney
At some point along the way, you may realize that it would be wiser to work with lawyers who specialize in patents and trademarks. Doing so might save you time and money. Here’s a guide on how to choose the right patent attorney.
Want to work with the IP attorney that other lawyers call?
Strong IP rights. Flat fees. Clear and prompt communications. Let us show you why other lawyers call Vic Lin when they need an IP attorney who knows how to protect patents and trademarks. Call US patent and trademark attorney Vic Lin at (949) 223-9623 or email email@example.com to explore working with us.
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