Avoid Common Patent Application Mistakes

by | Oct 16, 2012 | Invention Tips, Patenting

The patent application process is not simple or straightforward, and plenty of inventors have made mistakes that ended up costing them their patent. Even a well-researched and careful attempt to register a patent can run into unforeseen blunders. Learning about these common patent pitfalls provides valuable lessons, which can help save an inventor’s precious time, money and rights.

Here are the most common patent filing errors:

1. Failed to First Develop the Invention

One of the most common errors that we see is that inventors do not first complete the research and development of their product prior to patenting it.  This would be like buying wheels for your bike before you figured out which bike you wanted to buy – The likely scenario is that you will end up with the perfect bike, but with a set of a wheels that either doesn’t fit, are longer applicable, or are for a different model.  The bigger problem with the Patent is that you may have also just prevented yourself from patenting the final version of your product, as any of the prior claims would impede your current claims.

Therefor, it is extremely important to do at least the Design and Engineering portions of your development to ensure that your patent is very close to the product which eventually hits the market.

2. Sold the product on the market too early

For those pursuing a U.S. patent, the one-year rule is an important law to be aware of.  The law gives inventors 12 months to file a provisional or non-provisional patent application after the first sale has been offered.  Thus, if you do a small manufacturing run and decide to put an ad online offering the product for pre-sale, you have 12 months from when you put that online to obtain IP protection.

If a patent application is not filed one year after the first sale of the invention, any rights to the invention are forfeited and the idea becomes common property, never to be patented by anyone. It is important to know about this U.S. law and to understand that it is, in fact, the most lenient in the world.

The rest of the world (including Canada) requires inventions to be completely novel before the first one is sold, which makes it illegal to patent an invention after the first sale. So, if you’re applying for a Canadian patent or you’re planning to obtain foreign patent rights, it is best to refrain from selling your invention until you have submitted a thorough patent application, or Provisional.

3. Used the invention publicly

Any public use of the invention before filing a patent is subject to the same rules as selling or offering to sell the invention.  Basically, don’t use your invention publicly if you plan to apply for a Canadian patent or foreign patent rights.

4. Filed a poor provisional patent application

Many inventors make the mistake of filing badly composed provisional patent applications.  These can be rejected later on and foil an inventor’s attempt to protect their invention.

Furthermore, it is common for an inventor to assume that they have obtained a “patent pending” status just by filing a provisional patent application. This can have disastrous effects because provisional patent applications are not always accepted, nor are many of them ever upgraded to a full patent.  A bad provisional patent application may be rejected and if the inventor fails to verify this; they may further jeopardize the opportunity to obtain rights for their invention by selling it or using it publicly.


All of these mistakes are easy to avoid, but result in grave consequences when committed. It is important to understand and learn from them in order to avoid losing your chances at obtaining a patent altogether.

Article Author: MAKO Design + Invent

Article Author: MAKO Design + Invent

Company Team

MAKO Design + Invent is a full-service consumer product development firm servicing both high-growth corporate manufacturers and invention startups. With a 25-person team across 3 offices (Austin, England, Toronto), MAKO has complete in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering design and prototyping services. To assist our start-up inventor clients, we also have a subsidiary branch called Mako Invent that, in addition to above, helps start-ups with patenting, strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. For our corporate clients, MAKO Design develops world-class consumer electronics designs through our industrial, mechanical, and electrical design teams.



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