Conduct a patent search
Whatever your idea is, whatever field it’s in, someone somewhere has done related work before you. Most new inventions are a new combination of existing elements. You need a thorough patent search to discover if your invention is novel. You want your patent search to find all of the prior art that the examiner is going to find. With the prior art in hand you can answer the novelty question. If it isn’t novel then it’s time to go back to the drawing board. If your invention is novel then you can probably obtain a patent. The search results will be valuable later when you’re drafting claims.
Decide what kind of patent coverage you need
Should you file a provisional patent, a utility patent, a design patent, or a plant patent? It depends.
A provisional patent is a low cost method for securing a filing date and giving yourself one year in which to perform market research on your invention. It automatically expires after one year, and it is not examined. It is also not published, so your invention remains confidential. If you find that your invention has market potential, you can file a utility patent, before the expiration of the provisional, and take advantage of the earlier filing date of the provisional. You can always use the help of professionals, such as InventHelp patent invention agency.
A utility patent is what most people think of, when they think of a patent. Utility patents are granted for new and useful processes, machines, manufactures, or compositions of matter (new chemical compounds). The term of the patent is 20 years from the earliest filing date to which the patent application is entitled. A utility patent application costs more than a provisional patent, and if it is granted there are further issue fees, as well as maintenance fees later on during the lifetime of the patent.
A design patent is a patent that covers the ornamental design of an object. It is useful, along with copyright, for protecting decorative designs.
Plant patents protect new plants, as you might expect.
Prepare the application
A patent application requires three parts in order to get a filing date: a specification, a set of claims, and any drawings necessary to understand the invention. The patent office will also eventually insist on a declaration, an abstract, and of course their fee. In addition, you might also want to submit a power of attorney, an information disclosure statement, and an assignment. Preparing an application requires great care. It is a very detail-oriented task. The wording of the specification and the claims is critical. Any patent covering a successful product will likely be challenged in court. If the details aren’t right the patent may be invalidated.
After your utility, design, or plant application is filed, you will wait; probably for about 18 months. The US patent office has a large backlog and it will take the examiners some time to get to your application. After an examiner looks at your application you will get an Office Action, in many cases a rejection. Now is your chance to discuss your case with the examiner, to persuade the examiner that you really are entitled to a patent. To overcome a rejection you need to know not only your invention, and the prior art, you also need to know the MPEP (Manual of Patent Examining Procedure).
After your patent issues, it is up to you to enforce it. Your patent gives you the right to prevent anyone from making, using, or importing your invention, but if you don’t enforce your right you lose it. You also have to remember to pay your maintenance fees at 3, 7, and 11 years. No maintenance fees, no patent.
There are many steps along the path where the help of a competent professional can be invaluable. InventHelp agency focus on patent searching and has other qualified professionals who can assist you with your patent needs.