Do you have a brilliant and an outstanding idea in your mind followed by a threat that someone may take it away from you and make use of it before you could apply it? Then you must patent your idea without any further delay. It will save your idea from sale by any other person and incorporation or commercialization in the markets. However, make sure that this particular idea was not patented already by someone before and this will require a visit to the nearby Patents and Trademarks Office. Be careful to never disclose your invention to any friend or any person. If you share your invention or idea with someone else, you are actually authorizing others to steal it from you.
What Exactly is a Patent
Patents are protected so that the invention cannot be used or sold by others in a definite time. You, as inventor, are not aware that a patent is useless if it is not approved by the US Patent and also Trademark Office. This process is very complex and also takes time. It is highly suggested and in the inventor’s best interest to get a patent lawyer in order to get through all the paperwork of the patent. The attorney will ensure that your application is completed correctly and includes all the proper legal claims that are required by the USPTO.
The Patent and Copyright protection policy helps keep your inventions safe from the others and you possess ownership of this particular idea. If someone needs to work on your idea, it will require proper permission from you. However, you reserve complete rights to sell your idea at your own price for partial or full use of the idea. If someone uses it without your permission and approval, you have right to consult the court of law and sue the person concerned. This is also known as intellectual property infringement.
It is therefore recommended that always get patent and copyright protection for your ideas. As these may lead you towards more opportunities to accelerate your invention (and business) and keep competitors from stealing your ideas.
Steps to Get a Patent for Your Idea
There are three major steps to obtaining a new patent which are explained in further detail below:
- Find out if your idea is patent-able or has been already patented
- Determine which type of patent you will need to file.
- File the proper application forms for your patent
The first step in the patenting process is to determine whether your idea is patentable or not. You must do a search to find out if your idea, invention, product, process, or design has already been patented. Then you need to figure out the answers to the following questions:
- Is your idea novel?
- Is it nonobvious?
- Is your invention useful?
All abstract ideas, natural processes, and phenomenon are not patentable even if they are useful. However, if it is relevant to some machine work, process, literature, music, then it is patentable. Moreover, your idea should be non-obvious in nature and publicly presentable/non-offensive. If there is someone who could, by his/her knowledge, have thought what you have invented then it is also not patentable or non-obvious.
The second step is to find out what type of patent you wish to file. In this step you might wish to get counsel from a registered patent attorney. The inclusion of an attorney, or patent agent, is going to ease your strain. They will complete all of the necessary paperwork and will make all the registration processes much easier and understandable to you. Once you are ready to file for an application, you must be clear about the three main categories of patents. The first one is Utility Patents, also known as “patents for invention.” They are granted for the invention of any new and useful process, machinery, engineering, etc. Utility patents are the most common patents in the United States. In fact, 90% of the patents issued by the USPTO in recent years have been utility patents. The second category involves the patent for Designs. If your idea is related to a shape, ornament, design, look, etc., then it is patentable under this category. The last category stands Plants Patents, when someone invents reproduction of new varieties of any plant.
In step three you must determine what application you are going to file and how you are going to complete it. It is important in this step to review all types of patent applications, view templates, samples, or examples of other patents that are similar to yours, and talk to a patent agent to get a full understanding of each type of application and what they entail.
The inventor may apply for a provisional patent protection policy. It is generally applicable for a period up to 12 months. After the 12 months, the inventor should apply for the provisional patent protection policy. This will help the safety of invention within the United States for the period from 14 to 20 years depending upon the nature of invention. The third strategy is to apply for an international patent protection policy. The owner of the idea is allowed to submit a file for patent protection in any of the single approved international languages with one patent at a time. This will protect the patent within the PTC (Patent Treaty Countries) of the world at the same time. Make sure before filing your application for registration, you get a digital certificate from the USPTO’s website. This will guarantee your application is safe.
Many documents shall be required while registering online, including the statement of your invention, its applications, whether useful or not, and the oath that it only belongs to you and you have not stolen it from any other who used it prior to you. However, these are also recommended to be in PDF format and portable. A special and unique code and reference number shall be provided to you for reference-keeping and the operator from USPTO may also contact you by telephone. Now you are ready to fill the online application form by authorizing it via entering a special code. At the end of the process, the fee shall be displayed on the screen. After you complete the boxes carefully in the fee section, it is followed by two options whether to be paid now or later. If it is paid on the spot, you will be required to enter a valid credit card number with sufficient balance. On the other hand, choosing later will require the fee to be deposited by midnight of the same day, failure to which you will be charged an extra fee.
Now you must wait; your application must be reviewed by the examiners of the USPTO. If it is approved, then you will have to deposit the requisite fee depending on the length of the protection period. Otherwise, on rejection of application, you have one chance to appeal for re-consideration.
Find out more at: http://www.uspto.gov/inventors/patents.jsp