Patents are a very touchy topic these days, what with all the shenigans going on between Apple and Samsung, and the new law in New Zealand that basically bans software patents.
But they are still an incredibly valuable form of protection for small businesses and entrepreneurs who want to ensure they are compensated for their intellectual property and ideas.
Enter PowerPatent, a software company from Santa Clara, Calif., that has created applications to help organize the process of drafting, submitting and obtaining patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The company was founded by two executives with long-time experience in the high-tech industry. They are Bao Tran, who has been an intellectual property attorney for more than 25 years with a focus on intellectual property; and Carl Sandberg, who has been a board member, advisor, investor and executive with companies including U.S. West and ADP.
The company's primary product is ProvisionalBuilder, aimed at helping inventors document and structure applications in the correct manner.
Based on the information entered by the user, the application offers contextual examples of how individuals with similar ideas have described them in their patents. It supports the addition of drawings (along with annotations) or digital photos illustrating the work. There's also an error checker, which analyzes the application in an attempt to catch errors or omissions that could present problems for an application.
Once the description and application is complete, the software outputs it into either a PDF (so that it can be filed electronically) or into a printed form, for mailing through the regular U.S. mail.
Another feature worth noting: All the patent information is stored locally and can be protected with a password. There's also a mobile app for Android devices, which lets you manage some of this process with a smartphone. For example, you can take a photo that can be added easily to the overall application.
If you're just looking to file one patent, the software license is $99.99; if you want a version that can facilitate unlimited submissions, the license is $249.99.