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You've got an idea and you want to patent it -- great! One of your first steps will be to hire a patent lawyer. Luckily for you, the hub of Houston has a variety of reliable options. But before you jump headlong into patenting your invention, consider these factors:

Patent Lawyers: What Do They Do?
A patent lawyer exists to help you with the ins and outs of patenting your invention. Securing a patent gives you the governmental protection that grants your invention as a property right. Patent law is a very specialized field, but one patent attorney doesn't do everything: be sure to look at patent lawyers in Houston that specialize in securing patents for your field. You need someone with experience.

Types of Patents
Patent lawyers in Houston should know which type of patent you need, but it's important for you to know the options that are out there. According to the USPTO, there are three types of patents you can choose: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. Knowing these patents will enable you to choose the best patent protection for your idea or invention.

Expiration Dates
Keep in mind that your design patent will expire 14 years after you secure its rights. Utility and plants patents expire 20 years after. Unfortunately, patents cannot be renewed, but they can be extended under certain special circumstances.

What Makes a Good Patent Lawyer
As stated above, make sure that your patent lawyer specializes in your field. In a perfect world, your patent lawyer will know how to articulate the intricacies of claiming a patent, but it is unlikely that a patent lawyer in Houston will be able to do everything. Finding a patent lawyer who is able to understand your design or invention is key in getting the right coverage to protect your ideas.

How Do I Find More Information?
Your local library likely has access to the different types of patents and patent law. Don't be afraid to perform a search on the internet to find out more information or set up a consultation with a patent lawyer in Houston if you'd rather speak to someone in person.

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Today, the U.S. Patent Office receives six times as many applications for patents as it did in 1980. Due to the ever-evolving technological landscape, innovation is high -- and sharing these inventions with the entire world is possible with just the click of a button. At a time when everyone is clamoring to come up with the next big tech idea, it's become more important than ever to seek out patent protection. If you're a tech-savvy consumer, you'll probably be glad that creators went through the patent process for the following inventions.

  1. GoPro: The founder and CEO of GoPro, Nicholas Woodman, first filed a patent for a unique invention -- a harness that attached a camera to one's body -- in 2004. This invention would allow extreme sports athletes to surf, kiteboard, rock climb, or dance with a camera safely and securely attached to themselves, therefore letting them capture all the action in a totally new way. But it wasn't until 2009, when Woodman's company developed and released its own line of video cameras and attachment methods, that the GoPro's popularity really took off. Some have subsequently tried to imitate this concept for their own gain, but thanks to GoPro's patent, their design remains the leading model.


  2. Square: In 2010, Square filed about a dozen patents to protect their credit card reader -- and independent business owners are thankful they did. Founding engineer Sam Wen developed a portable, easy-to-use system that allows vendors to offer credit card services virtually anywhere they need to be, all right from their cell phone. Frequenters of craft fairs and quirky coffee shops have likely seen this piece of technology quite a bit. The technology is surprisingly affordable (there's even a free version, though the company does charge transaction fees), making it possible for virtually all businesses to accept debit and credit cards.


  3. Dropbox: While this patent doesn't involve a piece of tech you can physically hold in your hand, it's proven to be every bit as useful. Dropbox managed to become the trailblazer in digital file sharing, making it easy to share and instantly synchronize documents and folders across a specific network. MIT alums and co-founders Arash Ferdowski and Drew Houston went through the patent process back in 2010 for their Dropbox design. The technology's unique setup and ability to share and edit documents in such a simple way has solidified it as a techie favorite, even with the other alternatives (like Google Docs) that are now available.

If you have a fantastic idea for a new product, you'll want to do exactly what these innovators did and protect your design. Our patent lawyers in Denver can get you started on the patent process and take steps to ensure your invention remains one-of-a-kind.

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A moment of inspiration can lead to endless possibilities. Or for some Texas entrepreneurs, the idea takes a little longer to develop. Whether it is just a moment, months or even years, once the idea is firmly embedded, the process of developing the idea into a marketable item can begin. One of the first steps in this process is to keep patent law concerns in mind and to make sure that the idea or product has not already been patented by someone else.

The first step in this process is to research what is currently on the market. Are there similar products or technologies currently available and does someone already hold a patent for the similar item? What is the market for this product? These questions, along with numerous others will need to be answered prior to going too far with the new endeavor.

One part of the research process is often to test market the product or allow others to view it and give feedback. This often gives the individual useful information; however, it can also open the door to others learning about and copying your idea. For this reason, those chosen to preview the product should be carefully selected.

The next step in the process is to actually apply for the patent.  Part of this process involved making sure there are not others patents already in existence and then completing the necessary paperwork. A patent law attorney is often a vital part of this process. Once this has been accomplished, it is time for the Texas entrepreneur to finalize whether to sell or produce the product. Again, an attorney who specializes in patent law can be a critical asset in this decision-making process.

Source: click2houston.com, "How to make money with invention", Debbie Strauss, Feb. 16, 2018

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