How to File for a Product Provisional Patent & Licensing

by Ellen Cagnassola

This is a pretty big announcement but after 15 years of manufacturing my products, I am getting out of the labor end of soap and candles.  This will be my last holiday season and as of January 2013, Sweet Soaps will be a product design and licensing company only!  I may also consider consulting as a part of my business too.  I have some exciting new ventures that are coming to fruition for 2013.

In the next couple of weeks, I am going to start licensing some DIY candle kits through another company via  This will be the second company that I have partnered with to license my kit ideas.  The first is with Horizon Group USA for my soap kits and accessories in a major craft retail chain.  There will be 2 candle kits, a Snowman Poop Candle kit, and a Santa’s Coal Candle kit.  Both are fun for a parent-supervised kid craft.  The idea is you can create handmade cost-effective gifts for others while giving something special and unique.  There are 2 more partnerships in the works now and when things are legally bound by contract I will be able to talk more about them.

I just received notice that my Provisional Patent was approved for The Soap Card.  My goal is to create products and then license the ideas to other companies while taking a small percentage of the sales.  I have been manufacturing all of my products for the last 15 years by hand.  I am seriously done-finite-caput!   This is my destiny as the number of ideas seems to pile up and I do not want to run 25 companies.  A provisional patent costs $125.00 and it gives you 1 protected year to sell your idea without having to spend thousands on a patent.  Detail the idea is that you want to sell a company on the great idea, and license that idea to a company that will do the manufacturing.  After that 1 year is over you will need to apply for the patent to secure ownership. It is a long and drawn-out process I must warn you.  At this point, it would be smart to consult a Patent/Trademark Attorney.

There are factors you should consider before investing in a patent.  The patent covers you in the USA only so if someone in China knocks off your product you have little recourse.  Patent suits also cost a lot of money if you are going to sue for infringement.

I am sure you have noticed that there are some really pricey 3D greeting cards on the market.  I see price points as high as $8.00 even at Target stores.  I thought to myself the cards are very fun but you know it is going to end up in the trash anyway.  What if I could make a card at this price point that is a gift and a card, minimizing the waste?  I thought it would be a cute idea to demo it as Baby Shower and Wedding Shower.  The card itself can be very simple in design as the main art is in the soap that is encased in a (recyclable) blister box and pops out of the card when you want to use the soap.

Once you have a perfect prototype made of your idea, take photos and create a spec sheet.  Professional photos are not necessary any camera close-up is fine.  Your spec sheet should have a photo and description of the product dimensions, materials, or ingredients.  Your contact info and a brief description of your idea and how it works should also be included.  Include a self-addressed postcard that states “XYZ product has been recorded with the USPTO”.  The government will stamp and date the postcard and return it to you, this is adequate proof of filing.

I also recommend having a potential manufacturer sign a nondisclosure agreement before showing them your idea.  You will find that some companies won’t agree to sign it and you will be at risk of being ripped off.  There is an element to gambling in this process, nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say.  Take calculated risks and protect yourself as best you can but at the end of the day, there has to be trust to move forward.

If you have proven that your ideas are marketable the only way you can get to the next level is to release some of the control and align with good companies that you can work with to create alternate streams of income.  Focus will lead you to the ultimate success but there are so many variables in the mix it takes persistence, intelligence, and creative problem-solving to get you to that destination. That being said, hiring someone like me to consult and guide you is also an excellent vehicle!

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