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I have a great idea that I would like to protect, but I don't have the budget for a patent attorney at the moment. I was thinking to do it by my own.

I wanted to know if I try my best to define the invention to it's tiniest details, and make anyone who's trained in that field (computer applications) - capable of creating the invention, then I might have some basis for the non-provisional patent within this year.

Patent attorneys charge for a provisional patent filing as much as they do for a non-provisional patent where I live (non-US), so the costs are quite high.

How bad can this be if I go through an already filed patent and making matches to my own invention? Is this that stupid an idea?

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3 Answers 3

If you don't have a viable alternative and you are wiling put in the work, why not. I would recommend the well known book: Patent it yourself, by David Pressman and the less well known book by Ronald Slusky: Invention Analysis and Claiming. Although provisional applications do not need claims, seeing the thinking behind claims should help you with understanding the heart of what patents are about.

Look at a couple of issued patents in your field so you don't model it to closely on an outlier. Good luck.

Pressman, D. 2014. Patent It Yourself: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Filing at the U.S. Patent Office 17th Edition. NOLO, 656pp. ISBN: 9781413320442.

Slusky, R.D. 2012. Invention Analysis and Claiming: A Patent Lawyer's Guide, Second Edition. American Bar Association, 374pp. ISBN-10: 1614385610.

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It's only stupid if you plan to build a proper business plan around this idea and commercialize it. In that case, your provisional patent may not 'have teeth', and you wasted time and money.

Software patents are exceptionally tricky. You claims could hold no real weight, if challenged.... which is the only time that really matters. Remember that a patent is less of a description of how things work, and more a rendition of what you have the right to exclude others from practicing.

That said, if you read enough patents in your target area, you can learn enough of "the language of the art" to write a decent provisional application. For sure, do not file a full patent in software without an attorney. You chance of fail is nearly guaranteed.

Your business plan will give you the timeline to file. If you haven't written a business plan then you're putting cart before horse. But, on the off-chance that you're like me, and invented the magnetic power plug for laptops before Apple did, I'm writing to help you.

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Only consider doing it yourself if you don't have any intention of licensing or enforcing a patent that might come from the application. Self-drafted applications typically end up providing illusory protection and result in the eventual loss of patent rights. Plus, it makes your company/idea extremely unattractive to potential investors and business partners.

Provisional applications should ideally be as detailed as a non-provisional application, which is why the price for a provisional is typically as much for a non-provisional.

However, if your budget is extremely tight, there are ways to work with an attorney, avoid the pitfalls of a self-drafted application, and still get an application that provides decent protection.

Patents Demystified is a book that does a good job of explaining how to do this:

Patents Demystified: An Insider's Guide to Protecting Ideas and Inventions

If you absolutely need to do it yourself, Patent It Yourself is a great guide:

Patent It Yourself: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Filing at the U.S. Patent Office

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