Inventing in Your Golden Years—Using Age to Your Advantage

Inventing in Your Golden Years—Using Age to Your Advantage

{4:35 minutes to read} In my last two articles, I discussed mother-daughter inventor teams. Today, I’d like to talk about another special group of clients—one I can relate to very easily: baby boomers and retirees. The New York Times recently wrote about this phenomenon.

Some retired clients have told me that their idea had been in the back of their mind for a long time, but they’d never had the time to sit down and work out the details. Others were creative people who had been inventing things for their employer, but now that they’re retired, they’d like to direct their creative juices toward things around the house that they relate to.

Inventors over age 65 have a great advantage; they get special treatment from the Patent Office.

One question I’m frequently asked is, “How long does it take to get a patent?” Usually, the answer is: “It depends.” All other things equal, on average, it takes about three years to get a patent.

But if you get on the fast track, it usually takes a year or less. One way to get on the fast track is to pay the Patent Office an extra $1000 or $2000 (depending on your income). There are a couple of conditions under which you can bypass the fee and get on the fast track simply by filing a “special for age” application:

  1. You’re over age 65; or
  2. You’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

The fast track program was instituted back when life expectancy was 70. The purpose was to give people a chance to get their patent while they still could.

A lasting legacy

Another question I frequently hear is, “What good is a patent that lasts 20 years? I’m 70 now; what do I care what happens when I’m 90—if I’m even still around?”

Well, the nice thing about patents is that they are considered property and, therefore, part of your estate. Your heirs—your children; a spouse; whomever you’ve designated—will inherit the patent and any money that comes from that patent. The benefits don’t disappear when you do.

Some of the clever inventions my baby boomer clients have come up with include:

  • Yet another client created a “smart pocket” for your smart phone. You can access your phone through it, while keeping the phone safe from pickpockets. That client was able to get three different patents in one year because it was so novel:
  1. A patent for the pocket itself – US8,707,469
  2. A patent for a pair of pants that included the pocket US8,745,768
  3. A patent for retrofitting an existing pair of pants to be able to use with this pocket US8,745,767

As that last example illustrates, sometimes an initial patent opens the doors for further patents. Sometimes, even if you can accelerate a patent, it may not be wise to do so if the second application relates to the first. This is where strategy comes into the picture – a topic we will discuss in the future.
Please Contact us today with questions or comments.

Patricia Werschulz

Patricia P. Werschulz

Werschulz Patent Law, LLC
23 North Avenue East
Cranford, NJ 07016
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