The US has historically been a country that granted intellectual property rights to the first person who invented a concept, rather than the first person to file a patent. All that is set to change over the weekend as the US joins most of the rest of the world in adopting a system that awards protection instead to the first person who files.
While the ‘is this a good idea’ debate is long past, there still is a short window for you procrastinators, but that window closes March 15th at the same time as your local post office.
If you’ve been long working on perfecting an idea, you have until tomorrow to take advantage of filing at least a provisional patent application. This way if anyone else tries to protect the same idea, you have the (expensive) opportunity to prove when you came up with that concept, rather than just relying on the submission date.
Here’s a link to the USPTO submission guidelines for a Provisional Patent Application. You can speed read Patent Pending in 24 Hours or use some helpful software to guide you along the way. Who needs sleep, right?
The USPTO will record your submission date as the date you mail it in, but it has to be sent by Express Mail.
If you’re not at a stage where you are ready to file anything to protect your idea, don’t panic. The last thing you want to do is spend money to protect an invention that isn’t commercially valuable. Just keep at it and feel free to post any questions or comments on my blog.