Steps to Patent an Idea

Gain an understanding of the steps in the patenting process.

Did you create something unique and useful? Then start the patent application process as soon as possible; people might be trying to steal it. You must understand that only ideas that are in the concrete stage of development are subject to a patent. If you can describe something so well that anyone can use it, you can apply for a patent. So let’s talk about the steps to patent your idea.

Patent Overview

If you are granted a patent by the USPTO, you will have the exclusive rights for selling your invention for up to twenty years – other people will not have the right to make it or use it.

Utility patents are the most common form of patent, which protects your rights in useful and new machines, processes, and other things. Improvements that are made to existing items or processes, in ways that are nonobvious, are also included in these types of patents.

You need to make sure your invention is unique in the market, so research previous patents – disclosed inventions that are publicly available must be included in your research too. A patent attorney will give you the upper hand while conducting research as well as throughout the entire patent process. You must keep a detailed record of your idea before filing for your patent. Use a log book to write down every step of your invention. Both the date and your signature must appear at the bottom of each page. Two witnesses will help you get your logbook verified. Search through all the databases you can find that deal with patents in the United States. Consider other countries, universities, and even Google (Scholar, Web, images, etc.), just to make sure no one else had the same idea.

Commercial Appeal

  • Find out whether your invention has commercial appeal. You need to understand that submitting a patent application is a costly process, so you need to make sure there is something for you in terms of return on investment. Patent licensing is a good way generate income with a patent. If you need more ideas, check out our guide to making money with a patent.

Provisional Application

  • A provisional patent application will give you temporary protection of your rights. It can be useful if you are developing your idea or seeking some sort of funding. There is no need to provide lots of details and paying high fees when filing a provisional application compared to non-provisional patents. The USPTO will not examine the contents of the provisional application, so you will save time. You will be able to use “patent pending” on the product when you talk about the patent, which is valid for only 12 months (a non-provisional application must be filed with 12 months of the provisional patent’s filing date).

Non-Provisional Application

Examination and Filing Process

  • To file your patent application, use either mail or the Web. Keep in mind the fees are non-refundable.

We have talked about some ways to patent your idea, and you need to take action in order to see results. You have to make sure no one else had the same idea, so search through international and national patent databases – this process will keep you free from problems in the future.

Get Help with Patenting Your Idea

We will help you file for your patent the right way. Fill out our form for a FREE 15-minute consultation with one of our intellectual property lawyers who will give you the help you need. Find out how to patent a business idea.