Every day, people come up with quite useful ideas. Some of the ideas are genius. The problem is that nobody will ever know that the idea is genius if they never see it!
And simply because one has a great idea, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the idea is eligible for a patent.
To go along with the benefits of having the government recognize the fruits of your labor, there’s a certain… je ne sais quoi about having an official patent for a product that you’ve made. Suffice to say, RateFast is quite pleased that we have patented our product!
U.S. Patent No. 11,461,848.
Given the occasion, we decided to take a look at what steps RateFast needed to take, in order to receive a patent from the USPTO.
The word “Novelty” is often attributed to something that has an unusual charm, like a novelty toy. We might refer to a fad as ‘novel’.
But in the case of the USPTO, novelty means that the submission is being evaluated for whether or not it’s new. After all, patents are meant to protect original ideas to the benefit of the creator.
The search for an existing patent doesn’t stop with the United States however. The patent office searches worldwide to see if a patent for a similar items exists. If a patent for a similar item to your patent exists in another country, it may void your submission. Same with any step of the patent process however, there may be errors. This is why some recommend that a person submitting a patent consult a patent lawyer.
RateFast is novel, because there exists no other patented service which aids in the writing of workers’ compensation reports. We’ve discussed the utility of RateFast in the otherwise technologically barren field of California workers’ comp.
The reason that we differentiate between copyrights and patents, is to make a distinction between the types of things that will serve a functional utility, vs. something that will be published. A design patent constitutes a merger of the two. The iconic design of the Coca Cola bottle is patented, for instance.
Since RateFast-in-a-Bottle doesn’t exist (yet), we just had to worry about the usefulness of our product.
Usefulness is crucial in the determination of patenting something, because there’s very little interest in protecting something that does not benefit peoples’ lives in any way. For example, if you invented a bicycle with square tires, the patent office may not deem it to be useful. Who knows, though. The author of this article doesn’t work for the USPTO!
RateFast is useful, because it streamlines the workers’ comp process, in a way that cohesively organizes the process of writing workers’ compensation impairment reports. Traditionally, providers in work comp are given very little training, if any, as to how to perform their duties. RateFast eases the expectation that workers’ comp providers need to know the AMA Guides front to back (which they often don’t, to little fault of their own) in order to quickly write accurate impairment reports.
Still, we do support educating work comp providers in the field as much as possible.
There’s a term you don’t hear every day.
Non-obviousness means that the item submitted for patenting may not have been formerly considered by a person by a Person Having Ordinary Skill in the Art (PHOSITA). This means that if you create a novel type of hammer, the PHOSITA may recognize it as obvious that it’s a hammer. Another example may be making a Swiss Army Knife that is twice as wide, containing twice as many tools. These are obvious, and therefore unlikely to be eligible for patenting.
As stated above, and in previous posts, workers’ compensation doctors don’t even have the proper training available to them which would teach them how to write good work comp reports. Often, there is so much guesswork involved that physicians will whittle down their technique for writing reports, until they can consistently ‘phone in’ a homogenous style of report that the insurance carrier will accept, regardless of the report’s true quality and accuracy*. That is to say, that there is very little obviousness in writing work comp reports to begin with. RateFast is meant to be the tool that makes workers’ compensation obvious.
*We attribute this, of course, to the lack of overall training in the field, not the work ethic of individual physicians.
Outside of the ramifications required for a patent outlined here, there’s a non-trivial amount of legalese involved in submitting a patent, and getting it approved. We are extremely proud of our achievement. It’s a testament to our hard work as a company, and our dedication to the vision of making workers’ comp more accessible and accurate to providers, so that all stakeholders have a work comp report that can be agreed upon.
Not to play our own horn… but ‘beep beep’.