One of the most pressing questions an inventor faces early on is, “Do I need a prototype before I apply for a patent?” A Tampa patent attorney will tell you that while the straight answer is “no”—the U.S. Patent Office does not require you to have a prototype in advance of filing an application for a patent—there are advantages as well as disadvantages to prototyping first.


A Tampa patent attorney can review your case and provide individualized advice to help you make an informed decision.


Working with a Tampa patent attorney in the early stages of your invention’s development will ensure that when it is the right time to apply for your patent, you’ll have access to the full range of services and expertise to help you comply with the current U.S. patent laws and requirements for filing your application correctly.


Prototyping: Costs vs. Benefits


Tampa patent attorneys know that for some inventions, a prototype can be an invaluable component of the development process, but prototype creation can be an expensive endeavor that not every inventor can afford.


In general, if your invention can be prototyped for a relatively low cost, it is usually beneficial to go ahead and create the prototype. However, if you think you may license your patent rights, it is likely that the licensee will make design revisions to your invention. In such cases, a Tampa patent attorney will typically advise that the development of a prototype would likely not be worth the expense.


A Tampa patent attorney can help you decide which route makes the most sense in your particular case. A cost/benefit analysis will weigh the following aspects in determining whether prototyping will:


  • Help to identify potential design issues, and if so, lead to effective alternatives;
  • Add value to marketing efforts;
  • Be an unnecessary cost if patent rights will likely be licensed and the product redesigned; and
  • Delay the patent process for an unacceptable length of time.


A Tampa patent attorney will also review your case considering the following:


Scenarios Favorable to Prototyping Your Invention


Consider prototyping first if:


  • You are unsure whether your design will work;
  • A prototype will help demonstrate the function of a complex invention;
  • It will be quick to develop; and
  • It will cost no more than $1,000.


Scenarios Unfavorable to Prototyping Your Invention


Consider delaying or forgoing prototyping if:


  • Your product design is simple and easy to understand;
  • You plan to license your patent rights;
  • If you’ve already had your first public disclosure—a Tampa patent attorney can clarify what is considered public disclosure—your patent application must be filed before the one-year anniversary of first public disclosure and time is running out; and
  • The cost is greater than $1,000.


In the final analysis, the decision whether or not to patent before prototyping boils down to cost and timeframe. If you have plenty of money and plenty of time, then prototyping will rarely hurt. It is, however, probably an unnecessary step in many cases.


Your Tampa patent attorney


Arrange for a consultation with a Tampa patent attorney to receive expert advice pertaining to your individual situation. Each invention is unique, and each inventor’s circumstances differ. Regardless of whether you ultimately decide to apply for your patent with or without a prototype, Larson & Larson Patent and Trademark Attorneys will provide the guidance you’ll need to feel confident in your decision. Call us at 813-223-3226, or contact us through our website to set up a complementary consultation.