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Consider what's already been done before applying for a patent

When you get an idea about a new product, process or design, you probably rejoice in your innovation. But how do you protect it?

If you have an entrepreneurial side, an "Aha!" moment can be exhilarating. But before you go too far in your production process, you might want to see just how original your idea is. When you try to secure a patent, you could potentially experience a conflict with prior art.

You must present fresh, new ideas for patent protection

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has criteria about issuing patents for new creations. In order to avoid infringing on previously protected work, the PTO will evaluate your intellectual property to determine how new it is.

Prior art that is relevant to what you're trying to patent may include:

  • Products
  • Designs
  • Research
  • Processes
  • Ideas
  • Knowledge

However, not all prior art would make your work ineligible for a patent.

Do your research prior to applying

If a patent exists for previous work, you may need to return to the proverbial drawing board. In some cases, a previous patent may be unnecessary for the denial of your application. For example, if someone already published printed material describing your work, you probably shouldn't expect to receive a patent.

However, you may choose to keep novelty in mind - both when you're working on developing your idea and during the patent application process. By doing your due diligence prior to applying for patent protection, you might be able to find a way to skirt potential problems related to prior art and bring your contribution to market as soon as possible.

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