Here at the Science, Industry and Business Library, the title we most frequently recommend to patent researchers is David Pressman's Patent It Yourself, currently available at the library in its 14th edition.
While SIBL is the New York Public Library's representative to the United States Patent and Trademark Office's Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program, our role in helping members of the public doing patent research has changed over the years, especially now that the USPTO's patent databases are available online and patents and patent information are available from a variety of other online sources. Of course we continue our longstanding tradition of assisting researchers with patents, patent documents and the patenting process, but we are librarians, not attorneys, and do not have the level of expertise of Mr. Pressman concerning the sometimes "arcane" nature of patent law, patents and the application process. Hence, we strongly suggest that people interested in patents read this book.
So, beyond its coverage of the obvious topics of drafting a patent application, filing it and dealing with the USPTO's examination process, what are some of the reasons we recommend Patent It Yourself? Well, highlights / key topics are:
- Documenting your creative process in case you need to prove that you are the first to develop your invention.
- Protecting the confidentiality of information about your invention during the invention process.
- Determining whether your invention is likely to be patentable (that is, meets the legal standards to get a patent).
- Evaluating your invention for its commercial possibilities (assuming your goal is to make money with your invention, of course).
- Ways to exploit those commercial possibilities, such as licensing or assignment of the invention.
But wait, there's more! Discussions of the different types of protection available for intellectual property, which in addition to patents include trademark, copyright and trade secrets. A chapter on prior art searches: searching to find existing patents and published applications (or other sources) describing something already invented that may prevent you from receiving a patent. And, let it be said, a dose of inspiration to keep an inventor going throughout the very involved invention and patent application process!
One final note: We want to remind our readers and patent researchers that the patent is a legal document, and needs to be done correctly to withstand challenges to the rights it claims. While Mr. Pressman advocates that inventors can apply for patents on their own, it makes sense to seriously consider consulting an attorney or agent licensed to practice before the USPTO. But even if you are planning to use an attorney to file your patent application, we recommend Patent It Yourself for its insights into patents and the patent process, just as we recommend doing a serious prior art search on the USPTO website.