There are many individuals who believe they may have invented something of value. They know it is important is for them to protect their idea. Doing this involves going through the process at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It will require time, money and patients. The end result will provide an inventor with the ultimate protection for their creation.
According to an article in Entrepreneur Magazine, “The only way to make money from your invention and to guarantee that no one will steal your idea is to file a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.”
It is important an inventor be able to prove when and how they came up with the idea for their creation. This will require documentation. Some people have been told to write down their invention idea, and then mail it to themselves in a sealed envelope. It is believed this will provide dated proof of when they came up with their idea. Experts agree that this does not hold up well in court. A better way is to write details of the invention experience in a journal, and have a witness sign it.
The beginning of the patent journey begins with the patent search. This makes it possible for an individual to know if their idea is truly unique. This search will tell them if there is a similar invention that has received a patent. Some inventors try and attempt their own patent search. That is a good beginning. They should realize to make certain their idea is unique, it will require a search done by a patent professional. This is a very important step. It can prevent a person from wasting a lot of time and money.
Depending upon the invention, it may be a good idea to build a small scale prototype of it. This enables inventors to discover any problems with their idea or design. They should begin by writing down all necessary specs of the invention. The materials for the prototype should be chosen carefully. The prototype will provide a 3-D view of the invention. After the prototype is built, some inventors choose make a full scale model of their invention.
There are two main types of patents an inventor can be granted. A utility patent is issued for inventions involving machines and new processes. A design patent is provided for the manufacturing of new and non obvious types of design.
A person can file for a provisional patent. These applications are reviewed by an examiner at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The examiner will only determine if all of the necessary elements of the application have been included with the filing. Once the application for a provisional patent has been filed, an inventor can truthfully say they have a patent pending. This type of patent only provides as much protection as the details provided in the application.
One an inventors successfully completes the entire patent application, pays their fees, declarations are made and on file, an examiner will review the application. The time involved with a having a patent application reviewed by an examiner will vary. Depending on complexity of the invention, it could take several months to a few years to complete this process. Once the patent application is approved, the inventor has patented their idea, and is ready to begin the process of marketing it.