Women and Patents
by Melanie Eich
STEM fields are notorious for experiencing one of the greatest gender gaps in the workforce. That’s not to say that women aren’t coming up with innovative ideas. Rather, the structure of the field has hindered their ability to execute them. Lately more and more women are choosing to pursue STEM careers.
Perhaps new technology has fostered this recent upward trend. Women, especially mothers, are now empowered to communicate about their trials and tribulations without leaving the comfort of their own home. These advancement break communication barriers by allowing a great deal of collaboration to happen without requiring mothers to choose whether to stay home or go back to work. So, why should we pay attention to these tech-savvy mothers who are opting to work in STEM careers? They have excellent ideas for inventions, but often may fall short in execution because they lack the resources necessary to protect them.
How to Execute: Finding the Right Tools to Protect Your New Idea
So, whether you’re a new mom or just have a great idea it is important to take the right steps to protect yourself. What should you do if you think you have a novel invention? The first step is to figure out if you have an invention or just an idea. Remember, only unique and useful inventions are eligible to be protected by patents. You do not need to have a prototype, but you must be able to provide drawings and fully describe your invention in detail. Doing a patent search using the United States Patent and Trademark Office Patent Search website will also allow you to see if other people have patents similar to your invention. There are many patents granted that may not make it to market or make it to such a small market you may not know about them.
Before you start telling people about your invention, you should consider filing a provisional patent application. This type of application is less expensive, and does not require everything necessary for a full patent application, but will preserve your ability to protect your invention for one year. If you are still not sure you would like to file for a patent, but would like another person’s help with your invention, it is highly recommended that you have them sign a non-disclosure agreement. This is because in the United States, after you publicly disclose your invention, you only have one year to file your patent application before you lose all ability to file in the future.
If you have questions on the invention process, local inventors groups can be great resources. Even if you do not have a patentable invention, you may have other types of intellectual property that need protecting such as copyrights and trademarks. These types of intellectual property are useful in helping to protect the look and feel of your brand.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss your intellectual property protection options, please contact Clements & Shackle at 317-426-0581.