How to get a patent on a budget / by Solveiga Pakstaite

People generally know two things about patents: that they protect your idea and that they cost an arm and your first born child. So how on earth is a poor student living off budget noodles but with a good idea supposed to start making it a reality without one? The truth is that you can’t really, because as soon as you start telling companies and the media about your idea without intellectual property protection, it’ll be snapped up and squeezed for all it’s worth. Except you’ll have nothing but the pride that you came up with it first. Enjoy that.

I’m here to tell you that I didn’t have to sell a kidney to get Bump Mark protected. Around the time that I was first thinking of filing for a patent, I was let in on a secret which I will tell you now. It meant that I didn’t have to pay between £2000 and £5000, which is typical in the UK, to get my application in and instead got it all sorted for £650.

The costs get high when you have a patent attorney working on your application and I’m not going to suggest for one minute that I’m advising that you file a patent without the help of a professional, if you want to be successful, that is. But, what a lot of people don’t realise is if you want to file with an attorney, they don’t have to write the whole thing for you. That costs a huge sum of money, and let’s be real - this is money that you don’t have.

I found an attorney who agreed to let me write the application to the best of my ability myself, and then I only paid for their time to check it and make changes. I also ended up having an advisory conversation about how to go forward with Bump Mark in terms of keeping the idea safe. I ended up paying the attorney for an hour of his time and filed an application that I was confident about.

What a lot of people don’t realise is if you want to file with an attorney, they don’t have to write the whole thing for you.

I got my patent search results back last week and it found that my idea was unique and not infringing upon any other worldwide patents. Not bad for a patent I wrote myself.

This is the key thing - don’t rush writing if you decide to take my advice. I spent about a week reading countless patents, studying their structure and reading the strict rules about how the application must be structured. I took care over ensuring that the information and drawings were as accurate as possible in order to cut down the amount of lawyer time I would pay for. My time didn’t cost me anything, after all. The more time you’ll put into it (and it is dull and painful, but keep at it), the more money you’ll save.

I recently filmed a case study video for the Intellectual Property Office about my experience of filing a patent application, where I explain this a bit more - so please have a look.

So if it’s just money holding you back from making your idea into a reality - you might not need as much as you think. Find a good attorney that is willing to work with you to make your dreams happen. They are out there.