How to Patent an Idea in the U.S. – A Brief Overview
- 1. Understand and research your idea
- 2. Determine if your idea is patentable
- 3. Perform patent search
- 4. What type of patent do you need?
- 5. Apply for a patent
Have you brainstormed an idea that you think is unique and one-of-a-kind? Getting a patent gives you exclusive rights to the idea and prevents copyright infringement. That means you have the legal authority to prevent others from copying, manufacturing, importing, or selling your idea without your permission. However, getting it can be a complex and time-consuming process. This guide will help you understand how to patent an idea.
Discussed here are the key steps to keep in mind when patenting your idea:
Before you apply for one, it is important to delve a little deeper into understanding your idea. What elements of your idea make it new, unique, and useful? Is there any other way to rethink your idea? Identify every possible way to make the idea work, regardless of how you want it to be used. Next, determine if your idea has any broad application. Pondering over these aspects will help you find and protect the full scope of your idea.
On the other hand, you also need to research your idea to ensure it is an absolute novelty. When you get patent rights, the idea is to give you exclusive authority because of the originality of the idea. If information about such an idea or invention is already available, then what is the point of giving you exclusive rights?
So, if you are wondering how to patent an idea, an important step is to research if any relevant presentation, publication, issued one, or pending application is overlapping with your idea. This is important because the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) makes it mandatory to disclose information about any patenting, publication, or other documentation that might be relevant to your idea. If you fail to do so, your patent application might get disqualified.
Not every idea or invention can be patented. So, before you jump into the process of applying for one, it is important to know if your idea is patentable at all. USPTO’s Patent FAQ page will help you get an answer to the following important questions:
- Who can apply for it?
- What ideas can or cannot be patented?
- How to know if the idea is patentable?
- How long does it provide to protect your rights to the idea?
- How much does it cost to get your idea patented?
An important step in how to patent an idea is to perform a patent search. This can be a complex process and therefore, it is advisable to work with an experienced attorney who has the license to practice before the USPTO. You may file for a patent search on your own, but this can be difficult. So, the USPTO provides a web-based step-by-step tutorial to help you conduct a preliminary patent search.
The USPTO provides three types of patents – Design, Plant, and Utility. Based on your idea, you can determine the right type of patent you should apply for. If you file an application different from the category of your idea, USPO may reject the same.
Here, you should consult an experienced attorney who can help you understand the right type of patent to apply for. This can help you save time, money, and legal disputes in the long run.
The next step of how to patent an idea is to draft your application. However, this can be tricky because there are several parts to the application. Not filing the same properly may result in getting the application rejected, costing you money and time. Drafting an application requires experience and skill. Most importantly, you need to be well aware of the latest USPTO changes and upgrades in law. Therefore, it is always recommended to work with a professional attorney.
An attorney will not only help you draft an application but will also assist you in submitting the same and protecting your patent rights. You can also follow the official website of the USPTO to know how to patent an idea.
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