The Patent Process Protects Your Original Idea
Patents are legal documents that get granted to the individual who first files an idea that is original. It can be a process or a product. The patent protects the filer from others using, making or selling their idea or invention. Most patents stay in effect for twenty years after the application acceptation. Obtaining a patent requires a lot of time, research and paperwork. Your application will have to include detailed information about your product or idea, claims that refer to other patents similar to your own and the research proving your idea is unique.
Step One: Research and Preparation
Before you can submit your patent paperwork for an idea or invention, you should have a completed prototype that works. This is necessary because your patent needs to be based on this prototype or include other patents if it has modifications of an existing product. Successfully completing this step can be good for your long-term business goals. Having a finished invention already created will allow you to test the market and determine if your invention would be profitable.
Searching for similar invention patents can be done online through the United States Patent Office website. Finding similar inventions will help you figure out the scope of your particular patent. When you file your application, you'll need to describe what is unique about your invention as it compares to other ones.
Step 2: Hiring Legal Help
To increase the chances your application will be successful, it is crucial to hire a patent attorney. The right attorney should be one with experience in the area of your invention. They will use their expertise to complete a thorough examination of your invention and perform their own patent search to determine how unique your creation is. Reputable lawyers should be upfront about whether or not your invention is patentable. If they deem your invention to be unique, they will write your patent application and include: descriptions of past inventions relevant to your creation, a summary outlining your creation, a detailed description of how your invention can be used, legal descriptions (claims) detailing the legal description for your invention, and drawings or images, if necessary.
Hiring the help of a patent lawyer can be expensive, but they will ensure your patent application is strong. To save money, you may choose to do some of the preliminary work on your own before hiring the help of an attorney.
Step 3: Patent Pending
Once you and your lawyer have completed the patent application, it is time to submit it to the patent office. Submitting a patent application will require a submission fee to be accepted. Most patents will take up to three years for review and completion. During this time, a patent examiner will thoroughly look over your application and decide whether to approve or deny it.
It should be noted that most applications are rejected the first time they are submitted. When you get your patent rejects you and your lawyer can work together to make amendments before submitting the application. There is no cap on how many times you may resubmit your application until it gets approved. There is no need to wait until your product is approved before you start marketing. You may label your invention as patent pending in the meantime.
Step 4: Maintenance Fees
For those who find their applications for patents approved, they will have to pay maintenance fees to keep it active. In the United States, you will have to pay fees every few years from the date your patent was first issued. Failure to pay these fees could result in your patent expiring early.
When you come up with a great, original idea, it is important to obtain a patent to protect it. Once you file your application, you have full protection attached to your invention. If your application gets rejected, others may decide to make similar products and sell them as their own, especially if it's something that is very profitable.