February 27, 2020 | Written By Elana Bertram
This is the third post in a seven-part-series detailing the biggest entrepreneurial mistakes business owners make. The series will run over the next few weeks so check back to learn more. To read the first post in this series click here
Your idea is awesome. It solves an unmet need and looks good doing it. You’re brilliant and you’re going to make a lot of money once you get it all together. However, your invention can be improved. Blasphemy, I know! You have come up with the best solution for this problem the world has ever seen and no one has thought of it before you!
However, during development, beta testing, and market release to real live customers, you will identify areas of improvement: The handle will be made more flexible, the cover will be made out of press-fit polycarbonate instead of aluminum, the rough edges will literally be sanded off.
It is challenging for entrepreneurs, particularly solo entrepreneurs, to deviate from the solution they have developed. However, when drafting your patent application, endeavor to “zoom out” to alternate solutions to the problem solved by your invention. You don’t want to be in a position where you have expressly disclaimed improvements to your invention that may prove useful in later versions. This is why it’s important to consult with a patent attorney during the provisional application, not just for the “real” nonprovisional application. (In the rare case that you need your provisional application during litigation, you need a good one!) Writing a patent is a skill very different from engineering or expositive writing, and it’s a delicate balance to broadly and accurately describe your invention without closing the door to future improvements.
Relying on a third party at this early stage can open your eyes to alternative embodiments you may not have seen, and then that professional can build those possibilities into the application for future use. Examples of alternative embodiments could be as obvious as providing that the case for a smartphone could be made of plastic, metal, or other suitable material, or it could be a detailed alternate filtration process involving additional ingredients or steps that you haven’t tested yet.
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