How to Patent an Idea

If you have developed a product and you are ready to present it to a manufacturing company, you will most likely be asked to present a patent for your new product.

There are many things you may want to consider before applying for a patent. The uniqueness of your product or service is the first factor that should be considered. Additionally, a product must be affordable to the marketplace in order to be profitable. If you have these things worked out, the following information will be helpful to you.

Patents are instruments issued by the U.S. that will allow someone to prevent others from stealing their ideas and profits. Specifically, a patent will stop someone from producing, selling, utilizing or offering to sell the product in the U.S. or to import it within the U.S. Eligibility will require that the product or invention has unique characteristics and not have an apparently average expertise. This means that you will not be allowed to patent laws of nature, printed material or supposition.

Types of Patents

  • Utility patent. A utility patent is issued to protect the way a product works and the way it is used. Utility patents can be issued to those who invent new and useful methods, machines, devices, manufactured items and chemical compounds. Utility patents may also be issued for unique and useful improvements to any product or process. This type of patent is only granted when the invention or process has a purpose or function.
  • Design Patent. A design patent will protect the ornamental appearance of an item. The utilitarian features of the design will not be protected by this type of patent. A design patent is very narrow and specific. Design patents will last for 14 years.
  • Plant Patent. Plant patents are issued when an individual discovers a new plant species that is grafted and reproduced. This new species must be markedly different from other existing species.

Patent Specifications

  • The product or process must be useful. This mainly refers to the technical process, methods of conducting business, industrial processes, machines, manufactured products, chemical compounds and new chemical compounds. The purpose of issuing a patent is to protect individuals for anything that they create. This includes the methods used to create novel inventions and processes.
  • The product has to function properly. This refers to how a product will perform a certain action or function. If the product is supposed to perform or function in a certain way, it must function in the way the inventor has claimed.
  • The product or process must be new. It canít be copied or based on someone elseís invention or process. There can be a similarity, but it has to be unique.
  • The product or process cannot hold a previous legal patent in the U.S. Additionally, it cannot be printed and described in published material. If information is published by the inventor about the product or process, a patent has to be filed within a year of that publication. If the inventor fails to file for a patent within a year, the rights to that product or process will not be protected.
  • The product or process cannot be simple in thought or suggestion. In essence, this should be an actual product or process. The inventor has to provide detailed descriptions of how it is to be used.
  • The product or process cannot be of one of the laws of nature, a naturally occurring phenomenon or an abstract idea. Under these circumstances, a patent will not be issued.

The Necessity of Patent Protection

Patenting an invention will prohibit individuals or competitors from attempting to copy or implement a product. Patent owners can dispose of their invention by selling patent rights. This can be done either partially or entirely with a patent and the license to use the product.

Itís necessary to obtain a patent when someone is planning to sell or license a new invention to a manufacturing company. Manufacturing companies will not work with an inventor if he or she has failed to apply for a patent. A novelty is not protected until a patent has been issued.

Patent Searches

If you are considering patenting an idea, you should think about conducting a patent ability search. This type of search is wise to conduct before you spend any money on your patent ideas. This search is done so that an inventor can be sure that no one else has a patent for the product or process that they are interested in patenting. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has a website with a search function that inventors can use to search for previous patents on an invention. Their web address is: If you wish to get a legal consultation on how to patent your idea, the cost will be between $1,000 and $2,000 for an experienced patent attorney.

Searching for patent ability is done so that the inventor does not infringe on another product or process. Patent infringement refers to violating an individualís or a companyís rights to a product or process. This can occur by producing, utilizing, or selling a product or process. This includes each part of a patent chain. Inventors can get a patent for products that are modified to an invention by adding a new characteristic to that invention. However, this will be considered an infringement on a patent for the original product.

A complete patent search is the examination and study of all existing patents. The cost of this search is approximately $20,000. This search takes a significant amount of time to complete. Even though professionals conduct and complete a search, it can still be declared invalid in court. This is because something about the original patent did not contain certain imperative art. Another party holding a patent can sue and have the inventorís patent invalid. It is advisable to consult an experienced patent attorney before trying to search or patent a product or process.

If you have decided to patent an idea, you should take the following steps:

Obtaining a Patent

Apply for the patent at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. You can visit the office or you can have another person or a patent attorney appear on your behalf. You should file an application that includes a full description of your invention including all of the drawn images and claims. The invention will receive a patent pending status after the application is filed. At this point, itís not necessary to submit a functioning model of your invention.

Associated Fees

Utility patent. You will have to pay three different fees when you apply for a patent.

  • A filing fee of $300.
  • A search fee of $500.
  • An examination fee of $200.

If your patent is approved, you will have to pay two additional fees.

  • A publication fee of $300.
  • An issue fee of $1,400.00

There will be processing fees added to the total amount due; however, if you are an independent inventor or a small business, the fees will be reduced by 50 percent. All fees will be paid to the United States Patent Office. Some patents will pay maintenance fees after 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 years have passed since the original application was filed.

Design Patent.

  • A filing fee of $200.
  • A search fee of $100.
  • An examination fee of $130.
  • An issue fee of $800.

There will be additional processing fees added to your total for a design patent.

If you decide to use a patent attorney, the usual cost of the application for a utility patent will be $6,000 to $11,000. More than half of the sum will be spent on the services of a patent attorney. This may be why many people prefer to apply for a patent themselves. The cost for a plant patent is under $2,000.

You will be required to go through an application prosecution. This can be done by a patent attorney, but using a patent attorney will likely cost thousands of dollars in additional fees. It can take as long as two years to obtain a patent. The steps to a patent take quite a while to complete, and this is the reason for the two year wait. The entire cost of a patent is between $8,000 and $12,000. The higher cost of $12,000 would be for those who hire a patent attorney. Patent attorneys have a great deal of knowledge of the process and profitability of patents. A patent attorney can handle the paperwork for each stage of the application process for you; however, if you do not have the money to spend on an attorney, you should study the patent process carefully.

If you proceed to get a patent on your own, the cost will be $1,500 to $2,000 in fees. However, you will lose the advantage of having the expert advice of a professional patent attorney.

Maintenance fees are necessary to enforce protection of the rights granted by the patent after itís issued. The fees vary from $900 to $3,800. Design and plant patents will cost much less, and there are no fixed schedules for paying the fees.

If you would like more information about fees or schedules of payment, please contact the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

If you patent your invention in the U.S., it doesnít protect the rights to any of your patent ideas outside of the U.S. borders. There are a number of international agreements that allow you an exemption from having to file a patent in every country. The patent laws in each country will be different. Applying for international patents is a very complicated process that will require the help of a patent attorney.

Provisional Patents

Provisional patents are an inexpensive way of getting the patent process started. The provisional patent fee is a mere $50. This is considerably less expensive than the aforementioned fees. After a provisional patent application is filed, you can show your product to the public. Your rights will be protected under the patent pending status for one year. You will have to describe the product in the application. This application will protect foreign patent rights. Itís a good choice if you want to do some research before actually paying all the fees for a regular patent. If you do not file for a regular patent within a year, you will no longer enjoy the status of patent pending.

Further Information

You can get more information on how to patent an idea from many published sources. Below are two books that provide further information on patenting an idea.

  1. ‚ÄúPatent It Yourself‚ÄĚ, written by David Pressman ‚Äď a comprehensive book that will take you through the procedure of obtaining a patent and protecting it.
  2. ‚ÄúStand Alone, Inventor!‚ÄĚ, written by Robert Merrick ‚Äď the book that is especially popular on the