If you’ve got a brilliant idea or invention that you’ve been keeping under wraps, you may want to get a patent to protect your intellectual property. While applying for and getting it can be a lengthy process, the final result is more than worth it. Getting your product or startup off the ground could start with an approved patent, and the sooner you get started, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits. Let’s explore how to get a patent and what steps you’ll need to take to secure your invention.
How to Get a Patent
Understanding how to patent an invention begins with a little self-understanding. If you’re not completely comfortable with your invention, you’ll likely struggle throughout the patent application and approval process.
However, if you’re bursting with passion and ready to share your new product or business idea with the world, you may be ready to get a patent. The first thing you’ll need to do once you’ve decided to get a patent is to find your notes.
1. Keep Your Notes
When you’re in the throes of innovative passion, you might begin scribbling on anything and everything. Coffee-stained napkins could become precious epiphany points and the backs of cardboard boxes may be a partial thesis statement.
Hopefully, the majority of your notes concerning your idea and invention are still present and fully intact. This evidence could help prove the origin of your product or idea in the future, so it’s crucial to have it on-hand.
2. Decide What You Need
Not all forms of intellectual property qualify for a patent. Understanding what can be patented and what cannot be is the first hurdle you’ll need to leap across. Generally, a patent can be applied to:
- Industrial Processes
- Manufactured Articles
- Crafted Chemicals
However, a patent can only be applied to one of the above items if the patent office concludes that the invention is both “new” and “useful.” This vague language can make it challenging to determine your initial eligibility.
Still, there are other ways you can check to see if you qualify for a one.
3. See If You Qualify
Now might be a good time to perform a patent search. If someone else has already patented your idea, you need to know sooner rather than later.
Spending months laboriously crafting a working prototype and preparing your application only to find out that your invention already exists can be a soul-crushing experience.
If you’re not familiar with patent searches, you could choose to enlist the help of an attorney. Doing so just might save you time and several weeks of frustration.
4. Create a Prototype
Once you’re certain that your invention is one-of-a-kind, you can begin creating your prototype. Depending on the nature of the invention, you may require some startup capital to help you cover expenses.
You may want to consider applying for business funding in the early stages of prototype development. More funds to invest in your prototype could result in an expedited application process.
5. Do Market Research
Before you put your final touches on your invention, it’s essential to perform a little targeted market research. If you’re not sure who your product or invention is for, you may be in trouble. Understanding consumer trends can help you immensely.
If you’ve been searching for the right audience for your product, an advertising executive or marketing specialist may be able to offer you some sound advice. You could also choose to take an online course on market research.
6. Find Out if it is Patentable
When you’re confident in your prototype and your research, you begin the process of deciding what kind of patent you might need. There are three basic categories to familiarize yourself with. They are:
Design patents are awarded to those who create innovative product designs. Plant patents are for individuals who have invented or discovered new plant life. The majority of patents are utility patents.
Unless you’re a trendsetting fashion designer or an exceptionally interesting botanist, your invention likely falls under the utility category.
7. Double-Check Current Patents
It’s probably been several weeks or months since you’ve performed a patent check. Someone may have patented your idea within that period. Go ahead and double-check for duplicate patents of your product.
8. Prepare to Apply
Preparing to apply for a patent can be one of the tensest and exciting parts of the entire process. Applications consist of several different forms, fees, and additional documents.
Getting all of the necessary paperwork together in the right order can feel like a challenge. However, handling each form slowly and calmly can help you avoid panic and do a fantastic job with your bustling pile of papers.
If you haven’t already applied for some essential funding for your business, you may want to take a moment to consider your financial options.
9. Submit Your Application
Once you’re certain that your application is correct and complete, you can send it off. You can do this via traditional mail or via an online application.
Now you must patiently wait until your first correspondence from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Hopefully, you won’t receive a notice informing you that your application requires edits or additional documentation.
10. Receive a Patent Examination
If it makes it past the initial application phase, it is transferred onward to an examiner. This person will review your application and included documents. They may reject your application and allow you to apply later.
Or they could approve your patent. Scheduling an interview with your examiner may help you explain your invention with more clarity, potentially increasing your chances of approval.
11. Gain Patent Approval
When the examiner is fully satisfied that your invention meets all the requirements of your chosen category, they will award you with a patent for that invention. You should take a moment to celebrate your momentous success.
12. Maintain Your Patent
After your patent has been approved, you’ll need to maintain it. Patents must be maintained at least once every four years, or they expire. However, you could choose to pay maintenance fees that secure your patent for up to twelve years.
Patent Your Invention Today
If you’ve got a great idea for a world-changing product or invention, then you should share it! But only after you’ve patented your idea, of course. Otherwise, you may find that your grand idea becomes someone else’s wild success.
Now that you know how to get a patent, you could meet with influential inventors and get your foot in the door. Once you’ve made an impression with your new and notable invention, you might be the one to fund upcoming business opportunities.
If you enjoy this article, then check out this related article concerning small businesses!