From there, we also determine whether or not something’s ready for the fifth step, Protect it. This is when people get often way out of order. They usually think, “I’ve got this idea and I really believe in it. I’m going to go spend all the money and go and patent it right away.” They do that as step one before they’ve proven there’s a market for it, before they priced it out. I see people spending tens of thousands of dollars on intellectual property, attorney costs and government fees and things like that. By the time they then start on their project and get to this stage that we’re telling you this is the right time to do it now, they’ve often find, “There’s all this other stuff that we came up with along the way that should be added in the applications or be covered in the intellectual property protection.” You then end up redoing things, doing it over again, spending more money, and it ends up much bigger project item. Filing a second patent and extension, there’s a whole bunch of things.
I want to be careful here. If you must disclose something in the Prove It stage, we highly recommend filing a provisional because a provisional is very inexpensive. If you did something wrong, you can trash it and start a new provisional at this next stage. It’s okay to do that early on if you want, but do not be filing full patents until you’ve gotten through this development process because your features might have changed in the Prove It and Price It phase. In this Prototype phase, lots of new things and new opportunities for patentable features might come up as well. New ways to make something that you didn’t imagine. This is why we wait to do that. This is especially the time to wait to file design patents. Do not file design patents before this stage because design patents don’t hold up very well. We learned this on office chairs, for instance. We would patent the front design, the back design, and the base design. You have to break it all up to file a big design patent on the whole thing and would mean that if somebody did 10% difference anywhere on the product, including the back, it all of a sudden invalidated the design patent and that was proven in court.