People come up with new ideas every day. One important step these inventors must make before they begin to market their new product or device is to patent it. Getting a patent registers a product with the federal government, establishes ownership and a date of registration. This restricts other people from using your creation without your permission. To patent an invention, one must file the appropriate paperwork with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and pay all applicable fees. People of any age can file for a patent. Some people hire a patent attorney to help guide them through the process.
Step 1: Eligibility
The first step in the patent process is determining if the idea is eligible to be patented. People can patent processes, machines, products or improvements and significant changes to anything that already exists. You must then determine into which category your patent falls. Is it a utility, design or plant patent? Use the USPTO site, patent depository library and other databases to find out if it has been patented before.
Step 2: Preparing The Patent Application
Once you’re assured no one has patented your idea before, you can begin to prepare your patent application. A patent attorney or reputable filing assistance organization can help with this complex process. It may require gathering PCT applications, expedited examinations, provisional patents, technical drawings, product descriptions, a description of how it functions and what makes it unique and a “specification attachment” with patent claim and abstract. A signed, notarized oath listing the invention’s creator must also be included.
Step 3: Filing The Application
Patent applications can be filed manually, electronically, or by mail. Doing it by mail costs more. All applications must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped receipt postcard, a Patent Application Disclosure and an Information Disclosure Statement. There is also a filing fee. You will be notified if your patent application has been approved or denied. This process can sometimes take years. If your patent application is denied, you can appeal the USPTO’s decision, amend and resubmit your application. An expert witness services patent lawyer can help with this process.
The cost to file for a patent varies widely based on what type of patent is filed. The price can range from less than $100 to thousands of dollars. The USPTO fee schedule lists the full cost of each type of patent. A patent protects inventions for between 14 and 20 years.