The first major mistake that is made with patents is disclosing an invention prior to filing a patent application. Disclosure could include offering to sell an invention, actually selling an invention, distributing advertisements about an invention, publishing an article about an invention, or any other act that causes the invention to be known to the public. The issue with disclosures is that they result in loss of the ability to seek patent protection outside the U.S. and trigger filing deadlines in the U.S. that must be met to prevent loss of patent rights.
A second common mistake that is made is not utilizing provisional patent applications. Provisional patent applications are relatively cheap and informal applications that can be filed quickly. They result in a patent pending status, allow disclosures to others of the material contained therein, and provide for up to a year before a more formal application must be filed. Provisional applications are excellent tools for entrepreneurs with limited initial resources because they preserve patent rights for minimal expense while the invention is further developed.
A third mistake made is not considering design patent protection. Most believe that patent protection is only available for functional inventions. This is not the case as there is also patent protection available for new creative designs. Protectable designs can include new product shapes, packaging shapes, website interfaces, font styles, and the like. Design patents are less expensive to obtain and can be obtained quite quickly.