Do you have a brilliant and an outstanding idea in your mind, followed by the 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 marketplace. You first need to make sure that this particular idea was not patented already by someone 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 without proper protections. If you share your invention or idea with someone else and do not have proper legal protections in place, you are actually authorizing others to steal your idea from you.
What Exactly is a Patent
Patents are protections for inventors who properly file, so that the patented invention cannot be used or sold by others for a definite time. You, as inventor, are not protected by a patent useless it is approved by the US Patent and also Trademark Office (“USPTO”). 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.
Patent protection helps keep your inventions safe from others and you possess ownership of the particular patented 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 sue the person concerned in a court of law. This is also known as intellectual property infringement.
It is therefore recommended that you always get patent protection for your ideas as this protection 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 patentable or has been already patented
- Determine which type of patent you will need to file
- File the proper application forms for your patent with the USPTO (and/or Internationally)
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 or otherwise disclosed. 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 (and we recommend you) get counsel from a registered patent attorney. The use 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 a Utility Patent, 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 is Plant 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 attorney or patent agent to get a full understanding of each type of application and what they entail.
The inventor may apply for provisional patent protection. It is generally an applicable for a period up to 12 months. After the 12 months, the inventor needs to apply for a non-provisional patent. A non-provisional patent provides protection of the 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. The owner of the idea is allowed to submit a filing 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 will 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. These are also recommended to be in PDF format and portable. A special and unique code and reference number will be provided to you for reference-keeping and interface with the USPTO. Now you are ready to fill out 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