The first step in obtaining a patent is to gather your ideas together. Put down all the concepts that make your invention work, detailing how each part of your invention functions. You may want to have a working prototype of your invention, if applicable.
Call us and set up a free consultation with one of our patent professionals. We are happy to discuss what steps you should take. After your consultation, you may decide to do a pre-application search to get a better understanding of whether or not your invention is able to receive a patent. Read more about pre-application searches in Understanding Patent Search Reports. After you decide to go forward with trying to obtain a patent for your invention, we progress to the patent application.
The application puts to paper the details of your invention and submits it to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for examination. To see if your invention is to be granted a patent, The Patent Office examiners will see if your invention is novel, nonobvious, and useful. To read more about these three criteria, see Patenting Criteria: Novel, Non-Obvious, & Useful.
The patent application is the most important part in the process of obtaining a patent. The way it is written determines the scope of your patent and the likelihood of being granted a patent. Furthermore, it must be written in a specific legal language as required by the USPTO. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced patent professional draft and submit your patent application.
Without knowledge of how to properly dictate your invention to paper in a legal manner, it is extremely difficult to obtain a patent. Furthermore, there are strategies to writing the application for each specific invention. Such strategies can increase the likelihood of obtaining a patent or increase the scope and protection value of a patent, once received. Such strategies are used by an experienced patent professional.
Once you have submitted a patent application, you can immediately use the term “patent pending” on your invention. If your patent is approved, the patent protection begins with the date your application was submitted.
After the Patent Office receives your application, it awaits review by a patent examiner. The patent examiner will use numerous databases to find similar inventions that were published before yours. The examiner may then use such evidence to reject your patent application. Most patent applications are rejected upon first submission (Even Lemelson’s invention of the camcorder was). You and a patent professional will be able to amend your application and resubmit it to the Patent Office. Sometimes, the examiner will call your patent professional and negotiate with him on a mutually agreeable way to amend the application so that it can be approved.
If your patent is approved, you have 20 years of protection since the date of your application. You will need to pay maintenance fees to the Patent Office every few years.