The traditional “Poor Man’s Patent” has always been a myth. In fact, this whole system was never valid anyway. The idea behind the patent was that the first person to invent something is eligible for a patent. The truth is that it’s time-consuming and expensive to pursue a patent. This article will explain what makes a poor man’s patent so difficult and why you should avoid this route at all costs.
What is the “poor man’s patent”?
Myth: I will get some patent protection if I write down my invention, and send it to the USPS. In some myths, protection will only be granted if the envelope is not opened.
The traditional “Poor Man’s Patent” was always a myth
Traditionally, people have believed that patents were meant to protect small inventors, but in reality, patents only protect monopolies. They also feed the patent trolls. Moreover, the traditional “Poor Man’s Patent” was never an actual patent.
This myth is called the “Poor Man’s Patent” Myth. Only those who have received a US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued patent are eligible for US patent protection. In 2013, the US introduced a “first to file” system that allows applicants to apply for patent protection for the same invention. If two applicants are filing, the applicant who files first gets priority. Some refer to patent protection as a race to the patent office. There are some exceptions to this rule (e.g. the earlier-filer has derived an invention from the later filer); however, any application must be filed at the USPTO in order to obtain patent protection.
The change from a first to invent system to a second-to-file system has made even the rationale behind a poor man’s patent obsolete. If someone else files first, being the first to invent is no longer a benefit. Even if you wrote out your idea and sent it to yourself, the date doesn’t matter. The date that you filed your patent application at the United States Patent and Trademark Office would be relevant.
From “First to Invent to “First to File”
The idea of the patent for the poor man is based upon a concept known as first to invent.
If two people independently file patent applications for the identical invention, the patent would be granted to the first person to invent the product, and not to the person who filed the patent application. The USPTO offered ways to use mechanisms such as the Poor Man’s Patent, which can be used to prove who invents the invention first and then diligently reduce it to practice. This could be done either by filing an official application or working on a prototype.
The LeahySmith America Invents Act was passed in 2011. The AIA allowed the U.S. to go from “first invent” to first file, thereby catching up with the rest of the world who had been doing this for decades. Even if you did everything right, the USPTO doesn’t care if you were the first to invent the invention, or if someone else was better.
DIY “Provisional” Patent Application
An DIY “provisional” application for patent could also be considered a Poor Man’s Patent.
You basically write down the details of the invention and then file it at patent office. However, you don’t need to file any claims and possibly other necessary parts.
You can request a professional to file claims and complete the application before the first anniversary of the filing. This is possible once your business has grown and you have more money.
This approach is fraught with dangers. Some of these dangers are described in the earlier article. In essence, however, you can only use your original filing date for the matter that you originally filed. You can’t add any additional material to the claims that you make downstream. This could mean that the original filing date is invalid.
Disadvantages of the Poor man’s patent
It’s based on first to invent
While “poor man’s patent” sounds like a great concept, it actually does not protect an inventor’s idea. Although it can serve as a minor proof of ownership, it has little real value and can actually be used against an inventor in a patent battle. The theory of “first to file” has been busted since 2013, when the system became “first to file” instead.
The original concept of the poor man’s patent comes from the first to invent principle. In the past, a patent was awarded to the person who first conceived of a product or process. However, this rule was later overturned when the USPTO provided mechanisms to ensure the first inventor was the original creator. A person had to create a prototype of their invention before filing an official patent application.
This system was flawed. Because it did not put anyone on notice of the invention, it often led to the creation of serial patents by people who were only interested in ensuring they could receive litigation benefits. Some of these patents were worthless, and those who created them were targeted for harsh consequences if they were proven false. A recent court decision has made this system worthless. There are a number of reasons why poor man’s patents are worthless.
Although “poor man’s patent” is no longer recognized as a valid patent procedure, it is still a viable option for those who cannot afford an attorney. It is a less expensive option and offers no real legal protection or credibility. If you have a good idea and are unable to afford an attorney, consider self-filing a patent application instead. So what is the alternative?
If you’re trying to protect your invention, you’ve probably heard about “poor man’s patents.” These self-prepared applications cost a fraction of the cost of a real patent, and they do not provide any meaningful protection for the creator of an idea. Many companies and self-help books promote poor man’s patents as a means to get their inventions protected. But this is an ineffective approach that offers you only a shallow sense of security.
While a poor man’s patent can be valuable, it can be dangerously out-of-date and can ruin your chances of obtaining a valid patent later. The worst part is that a poor man’s patent can prevent you from monetising your invention at all. In the past, an inventor could obtain a patent for his or her idea by mailing in a written description of the product or concept.
In theory, the concept behind the poor man’s patent is simple: the first to invent–or “first-to-file”–claims a patent over the first person to file a patent application. The USPTO provided mechanisms to help determine who was the first to invent the idea, so the first person to file an official patent application would win the patent. In practice, this method is not as straightforward as it sounds, so beware.
The poor man’s patent has become outdated as a result of the change from the “first-to-invent” to the “first-to-file” system. It’s not enough to have a good idea. The key is the date of filing, which must be recorded in a patent at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
“A Poor Man’s Patent” is a satirical essay by Charles Dickens published in 1850. The essay pokes fun at the time-consuming and expensive process of getting a patent. In Dickens’ world, applicants had to go through 35 stages and spend $15,000 just to file for a patent. Even with the legal hurdles that poor man’s patents entail, the process is still worth doing if you want to protect your idea and your profits.
In the past, people could mail themselves a manuscript to prove authorship and date of creation. This practice became obsolete after major changes in copyright law. It’s still widely used as an idea, but it’s time-consuming and has very little legal value. Despite its time-consuming and costly process, poor man’s patents are the most effective way to protect your idea. The best way to file a patent is to submit all the necessary documentation in a timely fashion.
It’s not legal
What is a poor man’s patent? Essentially, a poor man’s patent is an invention description that is posted to himself in a sealed envelope. Whether or not the envelope is opened is of secondary importance. The date that the postmark is made on the envelope will serve as proof of possession. However, if you plan on applying to Shark Tank, you will need a patent. This article provides information on how to obtain a patent through a “poor man’s patent.”
The main problem with a poor man’s patent is that it doesn’t protect the inventor’s priority to obtain a patent. Generally, the applicant must be the inventor or a person to whom the invention was assigned. The “poor man’s” patent can be used to prove authorship but no longer establishes priority. If a later inventor files a patent application, he will get priority.
This theory doesn’t work. Unless you have proof of when you actually invented the idea, poor man’s patents are useless. In the US, the system was “first to invent” – meaning the patent was awarded to the first person who made the invention. In the UK, the “first to file” system applied to all types of inventions, so a person could get a patent by mailing a postmarked envelope with a description of their invention. If the postmark is from the United States Post Office, then it’s probably not yours. However, if you mail a postmarked envelope to the United States Postal Service, you’ll be able to prove the date of invention.
Nevertheless, some people believe that poor man’s patents are a way to protect their copyrights. While this method is inexpensive and easy to follow, it can also be harmful. It can come back to haunt you later on if your idea is stolen or copied. This can be an effective and affordable way to protect your copyrights. So, do not overlook it! It will cost you money in the long run.
These are the best options to protect your ideas with the “poor man’s patent”.
Option #1 Get a provisional patent
This patent option is the best for the poor and will provide the greatest protection.
Only the United States Patent and Trademark Office can issue a provisional patent application. This is a preliminary application for a patent, which has fewer requirements than a full, general patent application.
A provisional patent application can be a great option if you want to quickly file your invention and secure legal protection.
Comparative comparison of a regular and provisional patent application
A provisional patent offers many benefits, as you can see.
Patent-pending is one of the most famous and well-known options. Investors love to see patent-pending!
Announcing that your patent is pending shows you are serious about your idea.
A further benefit is that you can secure an early filing date by filing for your provisional patent.
Patents are first to file, not first-to invent. This means that the patent system is a first-to-file system, not a first to invent system. This is why you should file for a provisional to get the first-to-file advantage.
Remember that you only have one year from the date you filed for your provisional patent to file for a new non-provisional. However, if you have already done some work on your provisional patent, it will make filing for your patent easier. You can also add additional development work to your non-provisional if you have.
You can find here more information about how you can file for a provisional Patent. This guide is simple and easy to follow, so you can get started!
Option #2: Publish as quickly as possible
A poor man’s patent option that comes with some risks.
Many innovators have asked us whether it is better to publish quickly or patent fast. We wrote a blog article on the subject . There is no one solution that will work for all companies. Our general advice is to file for a patent. There are other options if you don’t have the money.
If you are looking to make money quickly with your idea, publishing fast may be an option.
Publishing your idea quickly is a good thing. You have one year of patent priority, which you can use to file other people’s patents. Publishing fast means everyone will be able to see your invention.
You have one year from the time you publish your invention to file for a Patent.
This option has a major disadvantage: you cannot file for patents outside the US. This option is best for businesses that are international.
You can file first for a provisional, then publish your idea and finally obtain a non-provisional. This is a safer option. You can also file outside the US.
Option #3 Trade Secret
Trade secrets, sometimes called fourth type of intellectual property, after trademarks and patents, are a third option for the poor man’s patent.
Trade secrets are information that is not generally known and has value. It could be anything, from a recipe to formulas or a process.
Trade secrets must be used within your business to give you an economic advantage over competitors.
Coca-Cola is one of the most well-known examples.
Once you have obtained a patent for an invention, it is public information. You can use, license or sell the patent. There are many other inventions that can be kept secret, like the Coca-Cola formula.
Most of the uniqueness that makes a business stand out is protected by trade secrets. Be careful. If your trade secret is found in your UX (user experience), it is not trade secret because it has been published.
You must take steps to ensure that a trade secret is kept secret. Trade secrets do not have an expiration date. They last until they are discovered or lost.
It is not as simple as it sounds. However, it takes a lot of work and, most importantly, money to keep trade secrets well… secret.
You need to have procedures in place to protect trade secrets. You might start by asking your partners and employees to sign confidentiality agreements. You might want to control who enters your facility, depending on the project you are working on. You will need to identify and reduce risks.
Trade secrets are very common in many industries, but they only offer limited protection.
Trade secrets are a strategic matter. You should consider whether you should keep them secret or whether you could get more value from it if it was published and protected with a patent.
Trade secrets have one major disadvantage: unlike patents, they do not protect against independent discovery. If you want to protect a trade secret that you use in your business and someone else discovers it, they can file for patents and stop you from using the idea.