Are prototypes necessary before you get a patent?

A prototype for your idea is an important part of building the actual product. But for the patent process, it is not necessary. In fact, there are only three things the US Patent Office requires to review your idea. And those are:
 
1. The application
2. Drawings
3. The application fee
 
That's all you need to apply for a patent.
 
And in fact, building a prototype in some cases could be a huge waste of time and money.
 
For example, a few years back an inventor came into our office with a huge lawnmower blade. What was special about this particular lawnmower blade was that it had smaller blades (about 1 inch tall) welded on both sides of the main blade. This was to help cut up the grass into smaller pieces. 
 
He had obviously spent a lot of time making this thing. All of the welds were sanded down. He had polished it to a mirror shine. The thing was beautiful.
 
It wasn't his first one. He told us the story behind it. His first prototype was a hastily welded together piece. When he installed it, it proceed to explode like a grenade after he fired up the mower (the welds were weak). Then he built another. And another. Until finally getting one to work.
 
This took a year and cost about $3,000.
 
Long story short, he hired us to do a patent search and we found out that someone had already patented the idea of a lawnmower blade with smaller blades on it.
 
Moral of the story? He wasted about a year of his life and a lot of money perfecting an idea that he could not protect.
 
Before you build a prototype, make sure it's for something that you can get exclusive rights to. You don't want to spend your time and resources on someone else's idea.
 
If you have any questions about the patenting process, call our office at 1-866-433-2288 and ask to speak to our Idea Evaluation Engineer. Or get your free information packet at http://ideaattorneys.com/free-patent-information/free_patent_information_request.html

 

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