Be Proactive with your Patent AttorneyA misunderstanding of what the patent should cover can lead to the attorney not arguing for the correct claim language, which can significantly limit the scope and value of the patent. Remember that you have a partnership with your attorney and you must be active in the whole process to help insure the best results. If you do not invest the effort to follow the process and your patent is not executed in the most favorable manner, you are as much to blame as the attorney. The inventor will be the one who suffers as a result of any problems with the way it has been executed.
Form a CorporationAfter filing for your patent(s) you need to organize your business. This is important to prepare for the inevitable conflicts you will have over patent infringement. Large businesses' strengths are their marketing organizations and their deep pockets. Both give them an advantage over you if they decide to infringe your ideas. You need to neutralize that advantage. I recommend that you form one or more corporations to shield your assets from any attack a well-healed infringer might launch. Being well shielded from attack is a big deterrent that often will keep your adversary from launching one in the first place.
I believe it is best to hold patents in your own name rather then assigning them to your company. You should form a corporation whose purpose is to market the inventions. Have a contract that licenses the right to market the patents and any products created on a non-exclusive basis to your marketing corporation. This contract needs to specifically state that it is not transferable to new ownership of the corporation and that it is renewable at six month or one year intervals at the licenser's sole discretion. The purpose of the contract is to create a situation where a judgment against your marketing corporation is worthless because the right to market the invention is not transferable. This approach reserves the right for you to license the patent to others if your first corporation comes under attack by an infringer or for any other situation such as product liability.
The purpose of the corporation is to shield you and your patents from a company that has deep pockets and tries to break you with harassing litigation. Your marketing corporation should have minimal assets. You must operate the corporation precisely as proscribed by federal and state laws. This means that all the necessary meetings and paper work must be done in the manner dictated by laws where your corporation is formed for it to limit your liability.
If you have other substantial assets, you should consider putting them in their own corporations. In my case, I have a laboratory in which I develop products and a farm where each is separately incorporated. Also consider having ownership held jointly if you are in a secure marriage. Your spouse should not be active in the corporate operation to prevent your opponent from suing them. In many cases, judgments may not be executed against jointly held property until it is liquidated.
Important People to KnowI would strongly recommend that you establish a relationship with a good CPA, a general business background attorney, and one or more patent attorneys early on in your quest to become a professional inventor. Attorneys come in two basic flavors; one type excels at filing and the other at dealing with infringers. I strongly recommend that you locate a litigator that works on a contingency basis and show him your patents before you start marketing. Having a contingency litigator available will deter infringers. You should also establish a business activity that will supply cash flow and sustain you during your effort to license your patents. Expect to work at licensing at least one to three years before you sign up your first licensee.