On July 12, the CSUF Startup Incubator had a guest speaker to discuss the topic of patents. Austin Bonderer, a patent lawyer, visited the Incubator in order to present potential patent landmines that small businesses and startups should be aware of. He specifically addressed an answer to the question “What happens after you have your idea and how do you protect it.”
Before the event, I was able to briefly speak with Austin about his talk and himself. Austin received a degree from the University of Virginia and graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering. Austin has been working in and around patents since 1998. He started his career in patents as the University of Virginia Patent Foundation (now called UVA Licensing and Venture Group). While working toward his law degree, Austin worked for 5 ½ years as a patent examiner at the United States Patent and Trademark office. During this time, his work concentrated on valves, business methods, and medical devices. After his time there, he was a clerk for the Board of Patent of Appeals. From there he became the Head U.S. patent prosecutor for FoxConn Technology Group as a patent lawyer. With all that experience under his belt, he opened up his own firm.
As a patent attorney, Austin always cautions his clients on not moving too fast and to make it a point to go through proper channels to get a patent. Austin started his presentation with a list of pros and cons of why a business should invest in a patent license. A patent is an “asset to increase the value of your business” said Austin. He went on to describe the process of obtaining a patent, warning the attendees that the average amount of time to acquire a license is 2 years.
The first phase is the search for prior art, this is where a business would conduct a search to see if their product has already been patented by someone else. This stage is optional as the patent office will conduct their own search; however, Austin advises to do it as he explains that the patent office search is not the “end all-be all” and patent examiners only have so much time to search for a certain patent. There are several times for when you should, as a business, conduct a prior art search, this would be at conception, when your first product is made and once more during launch.
“A patent is a negative right, not a positive privilege” said Austin. This refers to the right to keep someone else from making your product.
The second part of the patent process is the Application Writing phase. In its simplest form, this phase is filling out the application for a patent and then paying for it. This is the costliest part of the process, not because of the patent itself but because of attorney fees in order to get the application. A patent application can cost $5,000 or much more.
The last phase of obtaining a patent is the prosecution phase. This phase is turning in the application and (hopefully) getting approved.
Austin continued by presenting a list of “landmines” that companies might face when creating their invention and the following stages. These possible barriers included the invention itself, any employees, inventor and outside parties. He gave tips and directions on how to close these loopholes.
Do you have intellectual property that needs protecting? Get in touch with Austin by going to his website for more details on how he can help you protect the most important assets your business owns.
But a patent is only a part of the process of going from your concept to launch. To access expert coaching on how to start your business and gain access to many other professionals like Austin you should join the CSUF Startup Incubator as our next Resident entrepreneur. Working with the CSUF Startup Incubator is not free but it should be seen as an investment in your business with the ROI being launching your business sooner and having a clear startup road map for your business. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to become the next entrepreneur to work with us at the CSUF Startup Incubator.
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