With the design concepts flushed out, it was time to work on finalizing the patent application. I had been working with a patent attorney during the design process, to make sure I understood the patent landscape and how my concept fit within that landscape. The patent process is a lengthy and complex process, and working with the right attorney is key. There is plenty of information on the web about patents and the process, so I will skip that here, except to say that I decided to file a Provisional patent application initially. That would allow me to begin marketing the product as “patent pending” and give me 1 year to figure out whether it was worth taking the next, more expensive step of filing for a Non-Provisional patent (which can take years to obtain).
I had done my own patent search – finding patents for anything related to roof rack accessories, and then researching anything cited within that patent. Overall I reviewed about 150 related patents. My patent attorney hired a search firm to do a patent search as well, and fortunately neither of us found anything close, so we proceeded with finalizing the provisional application.
On an aside, it is interesting reading issued patents. Some make sense, others not so much. For grins I searched the patents for Lego building blocks, and although the company was founded in 1932, there is a 1961 US Patent for the toy.