Patent law – in fact, understanding the broader topic of intellectual property protection – is complicated and virtually impossible to cover in a single article. But we can point you in a direction and get you started on the right path in a single article, which is exactly what patent lawyer David Crowe has done in his article, “Patent law for innovators.”
If I’ve learned anything in this area (and I’m not remotely close to being an expert) it’s the importance of getting reliable information early, early, early in the process. Yes, I suppose you’re going to spend some money before you’ve made any money, but there’s a chance you’ll spend a lot more later, if you hold off on getting expert advice.
It’s all fine to say, “get IP protection advice early,” but the researchers making the breakthrough discoveries are busy … well, making breakthrough discoveries, not meeting with lawyers. But if the collaborators on a new project have the discussion upfront, there is likely to be a plan in place to address IP and other legal issues, so the team developing their innovation can stay focused on just that, and not suffer from unexpected legal distractions.
That may seem routine for some, but small startups, particularly, can easily get caught up in the many tasks staring them in the face every, and the legal considerations that are not quite so obvious move farther down the to-do list. They may know these issues need to be addressed (or resolved), but they don’t have attorneys on staff, as would be the case for a larger company.
The fact is, unless you’ve been down the IP protection road before (and already have a legal team that’s looking out for you), it’s hard to know how to maneuver all its twists and turns, which is why patents are a highly specialized area of the law. And it’s why (I don’t mind repeating this) it’s important to get solid legal advice early in the process.
Then go ahead and enjoy the thrill of launching your innovation without the unpleasant distraction of unexpected legal hassles. We anxiously await your innovations!