Let's Make
Patent Applications
A Little Simpler...

  • What is a patent?

    A patent is the legal right to stop others from making, using, selling, or importing the claimed invention without permission. Patents are property that can be bought, sold, rented (licensed) and transferred to others. Each patent is limited to the country that issued that patent.

  • How long do patents last?

    Approximately twenty years from the filing date; however, patent term is calculated separately for each country. Patent rights can be extended past twenty years based on a patent term adjustment or reduced to less than twenty years for failure to pay maintenance fees.

  • Do I need an established company before applying for a patent?

    No, individual inventors often apply in their own names.

  • Is it legal to apply for a patent to improve someone else’s product?

    Absolutely. It’s legal to apply for a patent that improves and/or works with another company’s product. If such a patent is granted, you will be able to use the patent to stop the other company from adding your patented features to their product.

  • What’s included in a patent document?

    Each patent has three main parts: description, figures and claims. The document is a written description of an invention that contains sufficient detail to enable a person skilled in the art to which the invention relates to build and use the claimed technology.

  • What are the “claims” in a patent?

    The claims of a patent define the scope of protection covered by the patent. For a person to infringe a particular patent, the person needs to meet every limitation in at least one of the claims of that patent. Broader claims are easier to infringe but can also be easier to invalidate.

  • Can I apply for a patent by myself without using a patent firm?

    Yes, but there are risks associated with this. We recommend reading DIY Patent Applications for more information.

  • What are the requirements to get a patent?

    Your invention should be of a technical nature and must be:

    • New (different in at least one way from any offering already available to the public)
    • Useful (provide some identifiable benefit that serves a useful purpose)
    • Non-obvious (the difference must not be an obvious extension of what is already available to the public)

    Non-obviousness is a subjective judgement made by the patent Examiner.

  • Should I patent my invention sooner rather than later?

    Yes! The first person to apply for a patent in each country “wins”. This is often referred to as a “first to file” (FTF) system that essentially all patent offices worldwide abide by.

  • Can I announce my invention before I apply for a patent?

    No, keep it a secret until you apply for a patent in a first country. If you need to tell people about it before you file, make sure everyone you tell knows and agrees (preferably in writing) that it is confidential. Your rights may be lost by doing any of the following prior to applying for a patent:

    • Offers to sell and sales
    • Public use (demonstrations, beta testing)
    • Any other public disclosure (marketing material, brochures, web sites, blogs, advertisements, articles, etc.)

    Luckily, both Canada and the U.S. provide inventors with a 1-year grace period for self-disclosures. So if you sold, announced or otherwise disclosed your invention less than a year ago, you should still be able to patent it in Canada and the U.S.

  • Will the patent office keep my invention a secret?

    By default, the Canadian and U.S. patent offices will keep your invention a secret for eighteen months from your earliest filing date, after which they will publish your full patent application on their respective websites.

  • How many countries should I file my patent application in?

    That’s up to you, but you only need to pick one to start. After you file your patent application in the first country, you generally get a year of time before you need to file the same application in other countries.

    You can use the year after your first filing to talk to clients, attract investors, and save up money for the subsequent country filing fees. You may also further develop your invention and consider adding additional features you hadn’t thought of when you filed in the first country.

    At the end of the first year, if you’re still unsure which countries you want, you may also choose to file what is called an “international application” under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Filing a PCT app will buy yourself more time, but you still need to pick your countries and enter them individually later.

  • How long does it take to get a patent?

    Usually about two to three years from filing the application.

  • How much will patenting cost?

    Several variables must be considered when providing a patent cost estimate. Feel free to read more about Budgeting For a Patent for detailed information.

  • How do payments work?

    When drafting a new application from scratch we generally require pre-payment of all the government filing fees and one half of the total service fees before ATMAC begins work. The remaining balance is due after the application is filed at the patent office.

  • How long will it take to draft and file a new application?

    Since each patent project is different, we’ll provide you with a time estimate at the same time that we provide a cost estimate. Generally speaking we can provide a completed draft for your review within three to four weeks from receipt of deposit pre-payment. We can then file the application within one to two days from receiving your approval of the draft.

  • Are there any guarantees?

    While we cannot guarantee that your patent application will issue as a patent, we can provide you with the ATMAC Guarantee.

    If you feel we have overpromised and undelivered, you can apply the discount you feel is fair at the time of billing.

    We’re confident in our work, and every suggestion for improvement we hear results in tangible changes in ATMAC.

  • How do I get started?

    The first step will be validating your invention to determine whether the idea has been done before. Request a Clarity Session and we will help you get the process started.

    You can also read our Getting Started guide for a detailed walkthrough.

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