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Inventors Don’t Have To Be
Stymied By Technical Claims

 A person would have to have lived on a desert island and sip coconut drinks all day, not to realize that everything has gone high tech. Inventors are responsible protecting these innovations Ownership of the rights to high tech ideas or inventions have become increasingly complicated. There are a great many reasons to invest in patenting your technology. Aside from the obvious benefits of protecting your technology and intellectual property, you may need to use it to secure financial backing. Let’s face it - patents on your technologies make your idea attractive to investors. Many companies today literally don’t have any other assets besides their intellectual properties. Still others have been bought and sold strictly for the value of their intellectual property. IBM makes over a billion dollars each year just from licensing revenue from about 40,000 patents.

For the inventor, a patent offers many benefits such as: potential licensing revenues, attracting interest for funding, increased value in the company and protection from being copied. When the idea involves electronics it is wise that inventors and technology companies seek out engineering assistance.  The engineering team should have a thorough understanding of the patenting process and significance of technical claims.

For example, new trends in patenting for green technologies is becoming so important that the U.S. Commerce Department of Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO) has just announced a pilot program that will accelerate the examination of certain green technology patent applications. It is clearly to an innovator’s advantage to seek out an engineering firm that understands technical claims for green technologies. That way they are in the best position to assist the innovator with the protection of their ideas.

Also, frequently the inventor hasn’t thought of all of novelties to look for in the innovation and an engineering firm can help with the task of identifying them. Technology claims are especially intricate due to the many components and rights involved. Not all engineering firms have experience with technical claims. An innovator should find an engineering firm that is knowledgeable about the particular technology involved, and can help strengthen the details of potential technical claims.

Most inventors have an engineering company provide the technical direction that implements the concept or idea behind the product a novel use, design or manufacturing process. Even innovative methods selling or delivering the product might need protection.
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Determining what information should go into your technical claims requires forethought. When researching which form(s) of protection is appropriate for your design, consider the following:

  • Do you have the resources to defend your IP? Patent infringement prosecution from/against a large corporation can be very expensive.
  • If the patent is also international, can you travel to other countries to defend your IP?
  • What is the potential value of the product and its permutations?
  • How easy is it to duplicate the product?
  • Is the novel feature(s) foundational to the product or are they simply a delivery mechanism?
  • Where do you want to build your company’s value? In revenue, in IP or both
  • How long will the product be viable?

Our government is currently investing in green technology at a breakneck speed. However, building a green economy demands new and patentable insights. Technical claims for green engineering are often very different than technical claims for other electronic devices.  These innovators will have to know what portion of the product needs to be protected. Reputable engineering firms are a great resource and are especially valuable when utilized in areas of risk technologies and the “reduce to practice” rules.  In other words, the creation a model to prove the invention can be” reduced to practice”. They also can vet innovative portions of your invention. There are four criteria required to meet U.S. Patent regulations for electronic design or intellectual property.

  • Utility
  • Eligibility
  • Novelty
  • Non-obviousness

The utility qualification states that the product must be useful. Novelty refers to the product being new. Non-obvious requirement mandates that it must be obvious that there is a significant difference between this product and a previously claimed invention. Green developers sometimes have hurdles but are being patented more and more often these days. If you aren’t familiar with identifying technical claims, it is best to seek assistance from someone with experience in the field such as a product developer.

Suggestions for Inventors
Do your homework. If you can anticipate the product development direction your competitors might take, you may be able to “head them off at the pass” by being forward thinking in your patent strategy. Obtain a broad patent before your competitor does. You may also wish to patent unusual manufacturing processes, tools, accessories and methods that are unique to your product. This way, you can block other inventors from capitalizing on your design. They will have to come to you for a license to develop their idea. You can sometimes seek royalty income from your patents. But, only by patenting your idea can you create a situation where another company needs to license to use your idea.
When patenting technology intellectual property, think of it as expanding protection for products or technology based on your resources and the expected product value.( A novelty item that is expected to last one season may not be worth spending much time or money developing a tech patent. However, preventing competition for a product that you have invested 100’s of thousands of dollars in is absolutely critical. You must plan for solid protection from the beginning. What you are protecting is the concept behind the product, not necessarily its implementation. We have seen companies with truly innovative approaches to something which should have been protected but with the focus getting to market they left themselves exposed.  The end result was that they ended up in a position of having to competing simply on branding and price rather than dominating their field.

An innovator is smart to seek an engineering service that can help strengthen technical claims, identify high risk areas and on that is able to make recommendations for a good technical strategy that will contribute to making your unique product idea safe from marauding technology raiders.

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