Earning a patent can take years, but it’s easier with the right partner on your side. What is the process really like? Patented inventor and business owner Gina Crawford, Founder of Empressive Candles, shares her experience. Now that she has received a US patent, we sat down with her to reflect on her journey. Excerpts from our conversation are included below. She pursued her vision and achieved her patent with Wilson Dutra Innovation Law.
The Patent Epiphany – “You Need to Patent This”
How did you know you needed a patent?
Empressive Candles wasn’t planned. I used to burn candles a lot and do wax melts. I was bored one day and decided to make a candle. Then it just kept evolving. It went from making a glass gel candle to adding some embeds, then wanting to see that design clearer and make it something. Through a lot of failure, I eventually succeeded and it evolved to what it is today.
I took it to work one day and showed it to a couple of coworkers. They said, “Wow, these are beautiful.” And one gentleman in particular said, “You need to patent this.” That had never crossed my mind. It was just a hobby. I wasn’t even selling them at that time.
What did you do when you realized you could patent your idea?
I had been introduced to Camille and Fernando at Wilson Dutra Law a couple months prior at a networking event, so I thought of them instantly. I gave them a call, and they met with me within a couple days.
After they saw the candles, they expressed they hadn’t seen anything like that before, and they were impressed with the process of what I created. They recommended it would be a good idea to explore a patent. They explained the process, and that they would do their due diligence to go out in the market and see if there was anything else like what I had created.
How did you feel when you found out you had a patent-worthy idea?
It’s a pretty cool feeling, because it’s hard to think of things that haven’t already been thought of. And this was something I didn’t intentionally do—it was just something that I did on a whim out of being creative and playing around. I realized I was not only successful in making it work, safely, but that it was something that could be patented, that I could own. It was definitely a gratifying, proud moment.
The Patent Journey
What was it like getting started with the patent process?
We set up a meeting with Wilson Dutra, including one of my coworkers at the time who was an engineer, and we walked through the process of how the candles were made. We discussed the different ways it could be used. Then Wilson Dutra put it down on paper and documented the process from beginning to end.
What was the next part of the patent process?
It was basically patent pending. Wilson Dutra came back and said okay, now that we’ve filed and it’s patent pending, you can now go out there and sell your product. I was afraid at the time of someone trying to steal my idea. But then I was able to say patent pending on my social media, sharing the candles and selling.
Throughout that whole process, Wilson Dutra communicated with me. They sent me emails, we had phone calls and meetings, and they kept me informed of the process of getting a patent. This was important because I wasn’t just filing in the United States, I was also filing in China and the UK. And of course, there were documents and documents that I didn’t understand. But Wilson Dutra would get on the phone with me, answer any questions that I had, walk me through it, make sure I understood what I was receiving, what I was paying for, and what the expectations were. I was always informed. Even today, I’m still informed, three years in.
How does it feel to own your idea?
It’s a great feeling. And I’m very glad that I went through the process and did it. There’s a level of pride to owning a patent. You can say simply, “I created this,” “I made this,” but it doesn’t hold a lot of weight. When you can say, “I own a patent for this,” anyone who knows what a patent is, they understand—it’s not easy to get, it’s not cheap to get, and there’s a lot of eyes on it. So it’s understood it went through a very strenuous process of being scrutinized and people trying to punch holes through it to see if it’s already been done. To have that patent to say, “You own this, you created this, this is an invention that’s never been done,” is very satisfying.
When I talk to potential investors or people who may want to franchise with me, it really holds weight. When I say I hold that patent, their eyes open wide, they perk up, and they’re much more interested.
Why Wilson Dutra
Why did you choose to work with Wilson Dutra for your patent?
I could tell they were genuine, good people. For me, they knew that I was a single mother, that I was doing my best trying to make this work. They gave me all the confidence in the world that they were going to work with me. They were the right fit financially, with their expertise, and they made it clear they were always going to be there whenever I needed them. And they definitely proved true to do all that.
How did Wilson Dutra help you achieve your vision?
They made everything easy for me. I could’ve taken the “easy” route and tried to patent this myself. But I guarantee, it wouldn’t have gone through. They took every piece of this process and handled it for me. I haven’t had to talk to anyone else outside of them. I haven’t had to do any type of documentation or paperwork outside of our initial meeting and keeping them updated. They just took it and ran with it and made it very simple for me. I never had to think about it unless they reached out to me, so that was great.
The really cool thing about Wilson Dutra is that there’s really no delay in response. If I email them or call them, in less than 24 hours, I get a response. They are willing to answer any questions, to meet with me, whatever the case may be. It’s comforting to know I have them on my team.
Why would you recommend Wilson Dutra?
I definitely feel like they’re more than just my patent attorneys. I think we’re friends, and I love the relationship that I’ve built with them. They’ve had their babies, and I’ve got my grandbaby, and we share things from our lives. It’s nice to know they’re good, genuine people. If I ever had to go through this process again one day—and maybe I will!—they would be the first ones I’d call. Because I trust them with everything, and I really adore their dynamic and everything else.
Advice From a Patented Inventor
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Just go for it. Like I said, I hadn’t thought about getting a patent until someone brought the idea to me, but I’m glad I did. I think you need to take a chance on yourself. Believe in yourself, believe in what you’ve done. Do your due diligence. Look out there in the market, see what’s there, see what you can do that’s different, and then call Wilson Dutra. Give yourself a fair chance and go for it, and don’t let anything hold you back from it. The feeling and the gratification afterward is amazing, and there’s nothing like it. No one can take that away from you once you’ve accomplished it.
Start Now With Wilson Dutra Law
No matter where in the process you’re at with your idea or invention, the experienced attorneys at Wilson Dutra can help you secure your place in the market. We use innovation law to celebrate and protect your creations. Book time with us to discuss how you can get started today.