Patent Your Idea
If you have a lot of innovative ideas, we encourage you to share them with others because it makes the world a better place. The thing about innovative ideas, however, is that over time others will want to benefit from them.
To make sure you get credit for your idea and can control how other companies use it, you should patent it.
In this post, we’ll explore what a patent means, what the benefits are, and how you can get a patent for your innovative idea in seven steps.
The Right Name For Your Idea!Make sure you give your invention a catchy name. Use our product name generator to find thousands of name ideas to use for your invention. It’s the easiest way to stand out in a competitive market.
What Is A Patent?
A patent is a sole or exclusive right granted by the government for an innovation or invention. With this right, you can prevent other companies or individuals from profiting from your idea.
So you can prevent them from using or reselling your business innovation. Patent protection is usually valid for 15-20 years and cannot be renewed after that.
Why Should You Patent An Idea?
If you’re not sure whether filing a patent application is a good idea or not, here are a few reasons why you should seriously consider it.
- It keeps the competition at bay – with a patent, you don’t have to worry about competitors using your own ideas to drive you out of the market.
- It protects your intellectual property – you have exclusive rights to your work.
- You can also license it if you’re looking for alternative revenue streams – others can pay you to use or resell your innovation once it’s licensed.
- This is a great way to drive innovation in other businesses.
The most important reason you should patent your innovation is that someone else can do it. And if they do, you lose the right to ever use it.
How To Get A Patent For Your Idea In Seven Steps
Are you ready to patent your idea?
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it.
1. Hire A Patent Attorney
Even if you can handle the process yourself, it’s very important to have a patent attorney you can consult. Since a patent application can be quite expensive, you don’t want to invest so many resources only to be rejected in the end.
With an attorney on your side, you can make sure that your paperwork is always up to date. This attorney can help you with the entire application process. He or she’ll check to see if you’re eligible and make sure your application is solid.
And if you have to go to court because someone infringes the patent, you’ll have someone to take care of it right away.
Since the patent application process can take up to three years before it’s granted, you should clarify all costs for hiring your lawyer in advance.
Most patent attorneys tend to base their estimates on the drafting of the application alone. As a result, they don’t take into account regulatory filing fees, attorney fees for potential disputes, and more. So make sure you get the full estimate for your attorney’s fees.
There are many lawyers out there, but to find the right one for your business, you need one that has a higher success rate than the industry average. They may be more expensive, but your patent application will be prioritized at the patent office. Plus, you can expect solid results.
Finally, you need to find someone who fits your innovation. For example, if your innovation is in the healthcare industry, you should hire a lawyer with experience in that field. They’ll easily understand your innovation (saving you many hours) and be able to develop a winning strategy.
Pro Tips– Always sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement with any attorney you speak with.
– You can also ask for credentials and references to make sure he or she’s the right person.
2. Find Out Whether You Can Patent This Idea
Good ideas abound. However, patent statue 35 USC 101 says that any
“new and useful process, machine, manufacture, the composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, is eligible for patent.”
So this is a very clear outline of what you can patent. For example, new laws of nature cannot be patented. This isn’t only because they aren’t new, but also because they’re created by nature, not by people.
Also, you can’t be speculative with your idea. There must be a clearly defined area with corresponding results.
You also need to clarify whether anyone else has already filed a patent for this idea or product. A good way to start this search is to find out if your invention already exists. If so, has someone else already filed a patent for it?
This is why you need the advice of a good patent attorney. He’ll not only help you with the search but can also suggest what kind of patent you should apply for.
For example, a utility patent is the most common type of patent. In fact, 90% of all patents fall under this category. However, if you want to protect an invention based on appearance or design, you may need to apply for a design patent.
Pro Tips– Use online tools like the USPTO patent public search to conduct patent searches if you don’t want to rely on an attorney.
– If you aren’t applying for a patent in the U.S., do a thorough search first to find out what is allowed in your region.
3. Gather Records To Prove Your Idea
Once you have established that you can apply for a patent, you must prove that the invention is really your idea. Because you could have heard it somewhere or copied it from someone.
In order for your application to be sound, the patent office needs to see proof that it’s your original idea and that it works properly.
Therefore, you should document every single detail of your invention. And you should do it right from the moment you start working on it. If you have these documents, you can use time stamps to prove that the invention is yours.
Records you can use to prove ownership include voice memos, pictures, videos, or even a journal with dates.
There are cases when your employees or contractors do the main work for your idea. In this case, you need a non-disclosure agreement and a contract that clearly states that all work done belongs to the company. This way, they cannot claim ownership. They’d even be important witnesses in your application.
Pro Tips– Your NDA should also prevent your employees from disclosing details of your invention to third parties.
– Sketches and corrections can also be submitted – so keep everything. You can even upload them to a central drive.
4. Design A Prototype As Extra Evidence
It’s important to note that while people say that you can patent an idea, there must be strong evidence that it’s viable. This is where your prototype comes in.
The prototype acts as a kind of model that validates your idea as tangible. For example, if you think of a new way to use AI to solve problems, you can create a model or MVP. This can be an image, a user flow, or another example of a Minimum Viable Product.
Instead of writing a long description of your idea, you can simply include it with your application to make it extra solid.
Building a prototype won’t only help you with your application but also help you figure out how to improve your idea. Maybe there are loopholes you didn’t notice before. Seeing them, in reality, will help you refine your idea further.
Pro Tips– When you think of new improvements, keep them to yourself so you don’t lose sight of your innovation – they might even become new inventions.
– Always accompany your prototype with brief instructions on how it works.
5. Start With A Provisional Patent Application
As we’ve mentioned in this article, the process for a patent application is expensive and time-consuming. So if you’re a startup or small business, it might be difficult to invest in this along with other more essential business needs.
So to hold on to your invention before starting the actual process, you can file for a provisional patent application. The provisional patent application is a sort of temporary patent that’s valid for one year.
This provisional patent still helps protect your innovative idea by putting it under ‘patent pending’. So you still get the benefits of the full patent application and no one can patent your idea within this period.
It’s also a great idea if you’re still building your prototype or gathering records to strengthen the actual application. You can spend time getting customer feedback and improvements for your idea while it remains on hold for you.
To apply for a provisional patent, you only need to submit the;
- Name of the innovative idea
- The details of the inventors
- Contact address for correspondence
- Summary of the innovative idea
- A description and drawings to back up your claim
And a couple of other similar pieces of information. Once you’ve completed the process, you can then proceed to the next step – filing for the actual patent.
Pro Tips– Like the actual patent, you cannot renew or extend a provisional patent, so be time-conscious.
– Provisional patent requests can also be rejected – so be just as thorough in the application process.
6. File The Actual Patent Application
Once you have completed all of the above steps, it’s time to file the full patent. If you have a provisional patent grant, you don’t have to wait until it expires to file. Again, the sooner you can apply for the patent, the better.
Even though the application process may seem simple on the USPTO website, this is where your patent attorney comes in. He or she has more experience and can guide you through the entire process.
First, he or she’ll know which category of patent application your innovation falls into. There are three types of patent applications;
- Utility or non-provisional patent application – This is the formal application that requires drawings, specifications, and evidence with the required formatting. It usually relates to the idea of an invention.
- Design patent applications – Here, you can protect any 3D shape or appearance of an idea. Basically, what the idea looks like. Unlike utility patents, design patents only have a term of 14 years.
- Plant patent application – As the name implies, this protects ideas for plants or botany. If you can prove that you can reproduce a plant asexually, it’s eligible for a patent. However, this type of patent is rare.
Once you know which category you fall under, you can properly categorize your strengths and individual requirements. Next, along with the application form, you’ll fill out a form in which you take an oath and make a disclosure statement.
Again, consult with your patent attorney every step of the way. Not only is this the service you paid for, but he or she’ll explain any documents you may need to fill out yourself.
Pro Tips– You can apply for only one patent per invention.
– If you want to apply for several patents, choose the continuation application.
7. Expand Your Patent Protection To Other Countries
Most of the steps and types of patent applications discussed so far are limited to the United States Patent Office. This means that protection is only valid within the United States.
While innovations for ideas that are only useful in your own country don’t need additional national protection, you may be concerned about whether they can be used worldwide.
That’s why you need to extend your protection to multiple countries. This is especially recommended if there is international demand for your invention.
In some cases, you should even focus on patent applications in other countries first. However, you should only do this if there is no demand for your invention in the USA.
Often there are international patent applications that cover a list of countries. One of these is the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which allows international applications in more than three countries.
You can apply for these types of patents online. However, to avoid falling for online scams, we recommend that you consult with your attorney. This way, you can be completely sure about the procedures and how to apply for an international patent.
Pro Tips– Conduct thorough market research to determine what countries have a demand for your invention.
– PCTs help save money because you don’t have to pay for individual applications to each country.
Your innovative idea is a great way to revolutionize your industry. However, to be successful, you need to patent it so you have exclusive rights to it. So find a lawyer who matches your branding and your values.
We also recommend that you data mine everything around the idea and, if you lack the resources, start with a preliminary patent application instead.