The patent process, or paper, pencil and patience

First of all, against all contrary rumors the patent does not protect any object or idea or technology, which many people may think.

In the fall of 2018, with the prototype in my hand, I visited a very dear acquaintance of mine, who by the way was known as a great businessman, I showed him the LavosBall with a trembling hand. As soon as he saw it, he fell in love with it and right away given me a piece of advice. That I should put the ball in a box immediately, seal the box at the post office so it is also stamped dated, then send it with the expressway, with a return receipt with my name, and when I receive it, I shouldn’t open it. Then I should go to the patent office. This is the best advice I have ever received on this topic. With the action, I can prove that at the time, which is was officially time-stamped and findable in the post system, I already had such an object in my possession.

A patent procedure can take years, even decades can seem endless, involve many pitfalls, and consume a lot of your money. You need to be a stout fellow to make it! This wicked procession begins with a person going to a patent attorney, who enlightens them on the details of the process. Of course, I also browsed the net a lot to find out what a patent looks like, what those patents are, and what they are made up of, but after that, I needed the help of an expert, to find out what I didn’t understand. A patent application consists of many, many typed pages, the accompanying black and white line appendices, and the explanatory figures. An application filed in 2020 is not much different from an Edison light bulb application. It cannot contain a color image, video or audio material, no tonal representation, and no tangible prototype can be submitted to it.

Everything has to be put on paper, how it works, moves, what color it is, how does it smell, so all the properties of the object can only be explained in writing as well as in black and white figures. Professionals say it is poetry. To formulate a statement in such a way that it is not too specific because then it can be avoided, but also not too general, because then you will not get the permission necessary for the assessment. Many times I imagine Einstein in his office - because he is known to have dealt with patent litigation - as he looks at these patents and wonders what the heck this monkey is talking about on these papers ?! After that, I’m not surprised that he chose atomic physics instead because it’s still simpler.

Luckily, I had a friend, Szabi, who had already overcome these ordeals with his invention. I asked in what way this kind of Stone Age archiving takes place, in the framework of which we try to preserve the dreaded secrets of humanity with painted symbols for posterity. He said I would prepare cold food for two weeks ... Then he told me how it went. The first phase is a 12-month national phase during which the submitted material is reviewed and judged on three issues that are considered to be fundamental and vital. The essence of each patent is a description summarized in roughly 10 or more claim points following the text of the patent, which usually takes 50-70 pages, that will be the subject of judgments later, this description in points is protected by the patent and are examined and classified from three basic perspectives:

  1.     Novelty
  2.     Inventive step
  3.     Industrial applicability

I submitted 12 claims and to my great surprise, I received a yes to everything, in all three categories, which is very rare. The patent process can be continued even if certain points of claim have received a negative response, as positive responses all become defensible, it is often said that these are indicators of patentability. Szabi prepared me for this in advance and advised me not to buy a new car or an apartment because I will spend all my money on this. 

After 12 months, the person can submit the first international PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) application. It is very important that until this PCT announcement is made, no one can tell anyone what they are doing! Ernő Rubik also made this mistake with the cube in the '70s. The then PCT standard was not extended to the whole world, so when publications about it appeared after the announcement in many countries, including Hong Kong and China, it was no longer possible to enforce the patent in these countries due to the novelty effect of previous releases.

The PCT phase lasts for 18 months and during this time one can only hope. Up to this point, roughly 1.7 to 2 million forints had to be spent. Once this section has the opinion written by the benevolent Einsteins, another Calvary procession can begin. Patent proceedings must be initiated separately in each country. This is easier for Hungary as an EU member in the European Union countries. But don’t believe we can get away with one injection! In some EU Member States, a separate procedure is still required. My friend Szabi warned me not to start chewing my nails yet, I will find out later. Each new entry is accompanied by an additional amount, usually in dollars (https://www.wipo.int/export/sites/www/pct/en/fees.pdf) and, of course, an additional time interval during which the judges decide, and send any questions or answers. Every country is re-judging our patent claim and the mischief is that they do it everywhere in their language, so we have to count on a lot of translation costs. It is an impressive process when the Chinese translate from Chinese to English and compare the text with the original version submitted in English to see if everything is the same, and then translate it back into Chinese so that they can even talk to each other and compare it to the parchments in their possession.

As these events took place, I was reminded several times of the scene when Harry Potter first visited the Gringotts, wandering through a bank of wizards among the officials sitting along the entrance hallway, staring at the newly arrived visitor.

I made my kids read my descriptions to be submitted because I was wondering what and how much they understood about it, as they had seen and held the LavosBall in their hands, and maybe something has escaped my attention. If you find a good enough patent attorney, you can get great questions from him and even help with the development with their comments. In addition to a patent, a utility model and trademark protection procedure are usually initiated. Since the world stands that we can’t defend anything in it, not even ourselves, the extent of the protection period becomes interesting. A patent is valid for 20 years from filing, after which it becomes a public treasure, thus serving the development of the world.

It’s a journey that may never end and one doesn’t know what’s going on just down the road, what the next pitfalls or possible pitfalls will be. Somewhere here I’m banding in this forest too, you’ll find me here if you want to.