You have that million-dollar idea and surely you want to guard your idea so it can’t be pilfered or claimed by someone else. But why consider patenting your product now? Because you’ve put in a lot of work such as the following:
- You’ve taken the necessary first steps: understanding your product’s answer to a real pain, researching and awareness about the target market for your idea and the potential competition.
- You’ve conducted a thorough evaluation of your idea as a truly viable business proposition; your idea is new, non-obvious and useful.
- You also know that your idea is not already patented.
Another way to know you’re ready to file for a patent is if you can get to the point where you can describe your idea in enough detail that it is beyond what the law considers a “mere idea.” If you are at the stage where you can talk about your idea with specific descriptive language, and you’ve put in the aforementioned work, then you have an invention - or at least the baseline for one – and it’s time to file for a patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Filing for a patent is a multi-step process that requires a lot of time and effort. So what’s the best way to go about this? Follow these steps to get a better understanding of how to file a patent in the US (or you can just give us a call at 888.864.1780. We’d be more than happy to help you through the process).
- Read the USPTO's list of what can be patented found on their website (uspto.gov). Make sure your idea falls in the category for what is acceptable.
- Consider retaining assistance. The patent application process can be long and complicated, and a patent agent can help alleviate the headaches along the way.
- Determine which patent category your idea fits in. With three different categories of patents – design, plant and utility – be certain you file under the appropriate classification to avoid any chance of the paperwork being sent back to your for alterations or for a straight up rejection from the USPTO.
- Consider filing a provisional patent. Though it’s optional, a provisional patent gives you the opportunity to have your invention protected without filing a formal patent claim. This allows you to use the term “patent pending” in connection with your idea and establishes an early effective filing date for when you decide later to file the non-provisional application for a patent. Basically, it protects your idea for one year and gives you wiggle room while you sort out all the details of filing your non-provisional patent.
- When the time is right, apply for the US non-provisional patent by registering for e-filing to get a customer number and a digital certificate to allow you to complete all forms online.
- Prepare and upload all required attachments. These include the specification attachment, drawings, and oath of invention origination.
- Once you receive your reference number and authorization code form the USPTO, then you are finally ready to use their online filing system to complete your patent application.
Making sure you know in advance why you need to file a patent means will save you time and money if you don’t actually need to file one. But if you follow the steps above to ensure you don’t make any mistakes along the way.
Have any questions? Contact us to get the ball rolling.