Read this tip to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Obtaining a Patent and other Invention topics.
Let's say you spend a long time perfecting your invention. You are careful to keep it a secret discloing it to no one. You keep detailed records of its development as evidence of when you discovered the invention. Once all the bugs are worked out, then you begin to learn about obtaining a patent and decide to file an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Then, while conducting a literature review and patent search, you are shocked to learn that someone else has a patent pending for the same invention.
One option is to file your patent, begin to produce your invention and then use your records as evidence if this other party sues you for patent infringement. Another approach would be to file your patent and then request that an interference be declared between your application and the application of the other party.
An interference is a type of proceeding held by the patent office to determine who was the first inventor when two people try to patent the same new invention. Don't try to defend yourself in these proceedings; most experts agree you should hire a patent attorney to give your invention the best chance of winning. Of course, this type of filing is only valid if you think you have come up with the idea before your competitor did. And, the sooner you act in this situation, the better off you'll be.