On July 24, 2007, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted me US Patent 7,247,075 for my design of the "right regular golden rhombic pyramid" which is the basic building block of the Ball of Whacks. You can read about it HERE in the USPTO's Full-Text Database.
I submitted my patent application to the USPTO on November 15, 2004. Thus, the whole process took over 32 months.
I wrote my own fifteen page patent application. Why did I do it myself and not turn it over to a patent attorney? There were three reasons.
- First, I didn't want to spend the $10,000-75,000 on a lawyer.
- Second, I thought it would be an incredible learning opportunity (which it was).
- Third, I wanted to see if a regular small-time inventor (me) would be able to figure out the patent arcana without a lawyer.
It took me about a month to write my application. Bill Seidel recommended that I read David Pressman's book, Patent It Yourself, which was an enormous help. My friend David Gildea (a registered Patent Agent and a fellow Stanford Masters swimmer) gave me some very useful advice — especially regarding "chaining claims." My CAD designer, Jason Hilbourne, also had some valuable pointers.
I'll be candid and say that dealing with the USPTO was "quite challenging." There were a lot of hoops to go through and hurdles to jump. I received several rejections, and had to write lengthy appeals. I had a number of phone conversations with my examiner and his supervisor.
There were times I considered giving up on the whole process. But I continued to press on. David Gildea gave me some good advice on "prior art and obviousness." Finally, in late May, I received word that my design was patentable and would be approved in July.
I learned a lot from the whole experience, including:
- Keep good records and make copies of them (things sometimes go missing at the USPTO);
- A regular, normal individual willing to put in the time and effort can get a patent; and,
- Be persistent, be persistent, be persistent.