In the World of DIY, Should I Write My Own Patent Application?

In the World of DIY, Should I Write My Own Patent Application? by Pat Werschulz

{6:50 minutes to read} While people can file patent applications themselves, it’s very difficult to get through the entire patent process without the help of a professional patent attorney or agent.

There are many things on the internet and on TV to encourage people to DIY—do it yourself. There are programs on how to remodel your house, how to cook, and how to make clothes. You can find information through sites such as Pinterest and many others.

When somebody comes up with an idea for an invention, the first question they ask is, “How much does it cost to get a patent?” When they find the answer, they think, “Well, why don’t I just try to do it myself?”

Pro Bono

We talked previously about the pro bono program for low-income applicants. We also discussed the several law clinics where law school students can help pull together a patent application and get it through the Patent Office at a very low cost. You can find all of that information at the Patent Office website, USPTO.gov.

Pro Se

The USPTO.gov website is rich with information for both lay people and the professional. There is a whole section for inventors who want to try to do it themselves, called pro se. Pro se literally means “for you.”

Q:  “Will I save myself time and money by doing it myself?”

A:  In the long run, you probably will not save money, and you may lose time in terms of getting the patent through the Patent Office. You may also spend more to have me fix your application than if I had been a part of the process to begin with.

Filing a patent pro se has a lot of challenges in and of itself. For example, everything I file for my clients, I file electronically. If you’re not a licensed patent attorney, you don’t have an account number and electronic ID to get into the system to file.

Being unable to file electronically may mean you have to file a hard copy with the Patent Office. Because it is no longer setup to handle paper, the Patent Office requires an additional fee of $400.

That $400 is one cost that’s hard to avoid when filing a patent yourself. Sometimes people sign up to get customer numbers so that they can go in and use the systems, but that adds to the time and complexity, especially when filing a relatively simple provisional application.

Non-Provisional Patent Applications

Filing a non-provisional patent application, is very difficult for non-professionals to be successful with.

The first Patent Office requirement when filing a non-provisional application—whether for a design or a utility—is to submit formal patent drawings with your application.

Formal patent drawings are different than any kind of artwork you will ever see. They have very specific rules that must be followed. They must be in a certain style; show the invention; have reference numbers; and have certain views.

Generally speaking, if the drawings are inadequate, they’ll be objected to. This is exceptionally crucial for design applications, because the drawings are the actual claim being filed.

The second Patent Office requirement when filing a non-provisional application is including a written claim. Claims are unlike any other type of sentence in the English language. Each claim is one full sentence with several parts, put into a special format, that could be a page long.

Nobody would try to close on a house and write their own deed, file their own title, and put down in formal terms the metes and bounds of the property. That is really difficult to do. To that same point, it takes quite a few years of practice to become very adept at writing patent claims.

When filing pro se, the Patent Office understands that, as a non-professional, you’re not going to get it right. And they do spend a lot of time working with pro se applicants, helping them get their application straightened out. But this is very wearing on the examiners and takes much more time that they’re allotted for an application or examination.

While the Patent Office provides a lot of information for somebody to do it themselves, the Patent Office clearly recommends applicants get in touch with a patent professional to prepare a solid application that will protect the invention.

If you’re tempted to do it yourself, I wish you good luck, but I cannot recommend it. When you need help, I’ll be available. Please contact me with any questions you may have about this process.

Patricia Werschulz

Patricia P. Werschulz

Werschulz Patent Law, LLC
23 North Avenue East
Cranford, NJ 07016
908-313-2347
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