I have come up with an idea for an original product that I would like to patent, hire someone to make, and start a small business selling these products.
My first step will be getting this design from mind to paper, and then mailing a few copies of said design to myself...serving as a sort of temporary patent until I get the official patent for my product.
I have a few questions, though, for those of you who have patented an original product and currently own your own business selling these products.
1) Did you use a lawyer to get your patent? Why or why not? If not, was it very difficult to get your patent? My husband is an Irish immigrant, and we did not use a lawyer to take care of his (thousands of dollars worth of) immigration documents. I'm assuming if we can do that, we can do just about anything regarding government paperwork. Any thoughts?
2) Can I start selling my products before I get the patent? I know I can do that legally, but would you recommend it? Can people "steal" my idea while I'm waiting on the patent? I have read that it can take up to two years to get a patent, and I would really like to start selling my products within the next six months.
3) How would you all go about hiring someone to create the first product? Did you just make it yourself? It is possible for me to do this, but I do not feel my skills are advanced enough to create a professional product. I need to hire someone, but I'm worried that if I did so, this person might steal my design. Is my "temporary patent" (the mailed copy) enough to keep someone from doing this?
Thank you for any advice you can offer!