I think often inventors jump to the conclusion that a patent on this great new idea is the logical first step in the process. However if you look at the patent, the market, and the other Intellectual Property protections available to an inventor – Patenting is not always the best method.
For example – Did you know?
An invention that can be considered “Art” such as the Game Paws we developed several years ago (http://www.obviousideasllc.com/PawSplash.html) is automatically protected under copyright law. These Paw figures were protected the moment we made them. People often ask if we patented them and I tell them No - there is no reason to invest the time or money. After all, the most we could get would be a design patent and in this case the automatic copyright protection is stronger than the patent protection.
Often companies will file Provisional Patent Applications (PPA) on an invention knowing full well the invention would not qualify for a patent, simply so they can print the term “Patent Pending” on the retail product to scare away competitors.
Even though a PPA expires in 12 months, there are ways to string PPA’s together so that they allow you the “Patent Pending” claim for several years.
It is always a BAD idea to tell anyone when your patent file date is. By knowing when you filed, and knowing the USPTO takes between 3 and 4 years to award a patent, a competitor can manufacture your product for those years and you can do nothing about it. In contrast, if they don't know how much time is left on the clock, they are far less likely to invest in trying to beat you to the market.
A patent can be rejected for 'Obviousness" if the twist your claim makes to another invention would be obvious to one skilled in the trade.
A patent claim can be rejected for "Prior Art" if all the parts of your invention can be traced back to other patented inventions.
A good patent attorney can write a patent in such a way that it all but guarantees to award. Even if in the office action process the strong claims are overturned leaving just the weaker claims in the final patent. You receive your patent, but when you go to defend it years later it has no strength to it. Most reputable patent attorneys would explain when that is happening so you know what the effect is, but there are some that would simply let you believe what you wanted to believe.
Some patent statistics you may not know…..
From 1975 to 2008 – Independent Inventors from California filed the greatest number of patent applications with over 116 Thousand, while South Dakota filed the least with just 991.
From 1976 to 1996 almost 10% of all patents were awarded to woman.
From 1977 to 2006 Independent inventors received the most awarded patents (11,816) in the category “Furnishings” and the least - with just a single patent being issues for “Button Making”