If you are among thousands of innovators wanting to know how to patent an idea, the answer is NO because patenting an idea is restricted by law. Patents are only awarded for processes, compositions, manufactured articles, inventions and so on. Abstract theories as well as ideas cannot be patented by themselves. This point is always reaffirmed by the United States Supreme Court. Getting a patent requires you coming up with more than just an idea; the idea should be far much greater.
After taking the idea and making it into a prototype, you now have something worth patenting. Attorneys more often than not disagree when it comes to the first key step to be taken. There are attorneys who suggest that it should be documented in the inventor’s notebook while others recommend working on it and developing it. To avoid confusions, it is advisable to seek the attorney’s help when nearing the finished artifact or product. It might take three prototypes or three hundred, you are not certain. After ascertaining that you have something you feel is different, new and nearing completion, talking to an attorney is now appropriate.
Critical in the possibility of getting a patent is the disclosure of the idea or product. Respecting the one-year deadline is also critical to attaining patent; after disclosure of invention to a person with no obligation to hold on it as a secret, US Patent laws expect the invention to be patented within one year. If this period expires without patenting the invention, you automatically lose the patent rights. In other nations, the inventor loses the patent right when he or she discloses invention information to another person before filing a patent application. How to patent an idea is that tricky depending on your country of residence.
Patent attorneys make a few suggestions when first approached by innovators. However, before making any suggestion, a patent attorney should give you an ear of what you have developed, have a glance at it, listen to your ultimate goal or plan and finally discuss the options. Some patent attorneys recommend provisional patent applications to their clients. This provisional application for patent acts as a place-holder which may accrue the inventor early-filing benefits. Some advice their clients to apply for full utility patents while others advice innovators to undertake a search for the purpose of determining whether the invention is prior art barring second-party ownership of patent rights.
In the event that the inventor proceeds with patent application, it is the responsibility of the patent attorney to draft this vital document. Personally drafting the application may render the invention worthless. There are rules which have to be followed in this patent application process which can be best understood by the patent attorney. The attorney works closely with the inventor before filing patent application. This is because any possible variations in the invention have to be factored in the application. When the application matures, the inventor’s signature is required on a number of papers. The patent office will require the inventor to settle various predefined fee payments after which he/she will wait for some time, say two or four years before receiving response from the patent office. How to patent an idea is not as simple as many think, you need to be patient to see it done.
A patent idea strikes at anytime, anywhere. However, the issue arises when an individual decides to turn the patent idea into a profitable or marketable tool. Most people have come up with amazing ideas, but failed to turn such ideas into profitable ventures. Some have taken so long to patent their ideas only to discover later that the idea was taken up by some other chap. Some people have even ended losing a lot of money and time hiring patent attorneys on ideas already patented. What should you do to avoid such frustrations?
Personally undertaking a search on an idea which acts as a lead to an invention, a process termed as patent search is the only way you can be certain of having full rights to an idea or discovering whether the idea has already been patented. Many people end up re-inventing the wheel claiming to be the pioneers which has seen a good number of people pay dearly when they find themselves on the wrong side of patent law. Remember, ignorance is no defense for law. Only novel ideas are granted patent. If another person earlier developed an idea similar to whatever you intend to patent, getting a patent is next to impossibility. It is even more painful coming to the realization that the idea is no longer new when you had already spend money on expert help.
Before turning the patent idea into that profitable tool, find time to explore or investigate on the idea. Most inventors come to a realization that they are not pioneers behind an idea they believe will make them proud. The term used to denote evidence that an individual has pioneered an invention long before you did is referred to as ‘prior art’ which may stand for a patent, a product, patent application or an article embodying your invention. If you come across prior art similar to your invention, there is need to reconsider your plans to file a patent application. This is just one of the barriers or challenges that are likely to come your way when striving to turn a patent idea into a profitable venture.
Determining the keywords describing your invention is the first essential step. Think of words you probably would exploit during your search if your goal is buying your invention and not patenting it. After coming up with the likely keywords that you could use, expand the set by brainstorming on alternative ways of describing the invention. Brainstorm as much as you can to perfect your search.
After creating the keywords, you are good to go undertaking the search. Several free sites exist to aid you in your search and are user-friendly. One such friendly site is search only that it avails one specific database-US patent database. Another free site for performing your search is offered by the United States Patent & Trademark Office which is said to be hard to use, but the basics can be learnt in a couple of minutes. After performing your search from known patent databases, undertake a thorough general search by use of brainstormed keywords. You might identify an article, idea or product that resembles your invention.
With comprehensive search results, you are better placed to either patent the idea or reconsider patent application.
Posted in Patent
Tagged Patent Idea
Many inventors have at one point or another sought the help of patent lawyers when patent issues that are beyond their control arise. The patent procedure and requirements are quite complicated and chances of making errors are high. When issues arise, patent property owners have no option other than to run a patent lawyer. However, the demand in services requiring the intervention of patent lawyers has led to increase in the number of these lawyers and hence making it quite tricky identifying the best lawyer to bail you out of patent issues. To settle to a lawyer who will give you the value for your money, consider the following guiding principles.
The basics: These majorly involve academic and professional qualifications. Just like lawyers in other fields, patent lawyers should be graduates of renowned law schools. That is the end of similarity between a patent lawyer and other fields’ lawyers. Patent counselors are further required to have one or more degrees in sciences or technical disciplines. The best lawyers you can land on are those that have prior knowledge in their line of specialization before enrolling for a law course. Extensive & varied experience when it comes to writing patents is also a key aspect to consider when choosing a patent lawyer.
Deep knowledge regarding your specific invention field: A lawyer who is well-versed in your specific field of invention is likely to be more efficient when helping you out of a patent issue than one completely naïve in that field. For instance, a biologist has little to write about on an invention in electronics. Nevertheless, being versed in one field isn’t enough. Good patent attorneys have education & experience in various technical fields. An average patent agent having a technical college certificate/degree who isn’t a lawyer, but has gone through a patent bar is in a good position to serve you provided their technical education as well as experience closely matches your specific invention field.
Successful patents: Qualified patent lawyers should offer successful patents. There are questions one can ask in an interview format with prospective patent counsel. Such questions may touch on the number of patents that the patent attorney has written, the number of attorney’s patents that have been challenged, those that have been overturned and the percentage of patents written by the patent attorney that have accrued financial benefits to the inventor among other questions. By comparing answers to such questions given by different prospective patent lawyers, you will be able to choose the best from the list.
Consider the affordability of different law firms: Large law firms operating from big cities offer services at a very high cost. The advantage they have is the ability of hiring diverse and talented staff. With the small firms probably located on the outskirts of major cities, you have an opportunity to bargain based on your financial ability. However, it is recommended that you compare rates before settling on one. Remember, the fate of your application for patent greatly depends on the quality of patent lawyer chosen.
No one can claim full ownership of an idea, a product, a process, a composition etc until it is patented. Your invention can only be fully protected through patent application. The US Patent & Trademark Office is tasked with the responsibility of giving inventors patents to their property. However, inventors placing their applications for patents are advised not to use terms like “patented” or ”patent pending” before making their applications or before being approved. This is because using such terms is against the federal law. However, most inventors have stayed long with their new ides just because they do not know how to get a patent. Getting patents courtesy of the US Patent & Trademark Office requires special legal knowhow. If you find it a bit technical and complicated to seek for a patent single-handedly, employ the services of a reputable patent attorney to help you through. This article will cover vital steps on how to get a patent.
To begin with, in your search for a patent, you will have to pay a visit to a United States Patent & Trademark Office’s local branch. If you find this inconveniencing, you can as well find a vast pull of patent information as well as the relevant forms posted on the website of the United States Patent & Trademark Office. After finding relevant information, the next step is preparing a proposal of your idea/invention that is comprehensive with all the necessary details. The proposal should be fully descriptive of the invention. It must also contain descriptions that are specific in English including detailed drawings. The next vital step is the preparation and execution of a short declaration that your invention is original and doesn’t infringe existing patents. After coming up with the relevant copies as well as following set instructions, it is at this point that proposal & declaration submission takes place. The two documents are submitted to the United States Director at the United States Patent & Trademark Office’s local branch. You can also submit the documents online. When submitting, inventors have to bill for filing fees which is meant for searching and examining the proposal.
If objections as well as modification requests are presented by the United States & Trademark Office, you have to respond without delay. Obtaining patents through this office is a process that has seen people giving up on the way. However, the length of time it takes to acquire the patent is dependent upon the contents of your proposal. If the contents of the proposal are accurate and raise neither objections nor modification requests, the process takes averagely eighteen months for the inventor to acquire the patent. This means that the inventor has to be extra careful when coming up with the proposal because if objections and modification requests arise, an inventor can have it rough waiting for the patent.
After obtaining the patent, the inventor pays for maintenance fee. These fees are paid at a 3-4 year interval following the date the patent was granted. This should not worry you much because there is a grace period of six months to settle the fees. Renewal of patent is a must prior to expiry date. Patents have a life of up to twenty years, but design patents have a shorter life period of fourteen years. You now know how to get a patent, go ahead and patent your invention.