You can’t patent an idea by itself. If you follow the correct process, you can take a great idea and eventually file a patent on it. If you follow this step-by-step guide on how to patent an idea, this won’t be a problem.
Why Patenting an Idea is Worth It
Patents are essential for protecting a new invention. Patents can be used to protect specific products, designs, and processes that meet specific criteria. A patent protects your idea for as long as 20 years. After the patent is granted, You will have exclusive rights to create, use, and sell your invention. This basically gives you a monopoly-like edge over your idea.
You can use a patent to stop others from doing the same thing, That infringes upon your patent. You could potentially sell the rights to use your invention to other companies, making significant profits from the idea.
You can sue someone for breaching your patent for a substantial amount of money. It is worth noting, however, that legal fees for bringing someone to the court regarding a patent violation can prove costly.
The Investment Needed to Patent an Idea
It is not cheap how to get a patent on an idea. You’ll quickly discover that you need to make a prototype of your patent before you can file anything to protect it. This investment will vary depending on how complex your idea is.
It takes about 18 to 24 months for a patent to be granted in the United States. This process will likely require you to invest between $10,000 and $25,000
An online legal service such as LegalZoom makes patenting your idea much simpler. This service will guide you through the process of getting a utility patent and a design patent. Consultations with USPTO-registered patent attorneys, patent searches, and technical illustration assistance are all available. They also offer electronic filing and application preparation.
LegalZoom can also be used to file a provisional Patent. This allows you to defend your idea against any competition while you are working on the paperwork. This allows you to market your idea while it is “patent pending” before the official patent is granted.
LegalZoom’s provisional services for patent protection start at $199, plus filing fees. Design patent services and utility patent services start at $699 each.
How to Patent An idea: 6 Steps Process
Are you ready to patent your idea? Follow the steps below on how to patent your idea.
Step 1: Verify that the idea is eligible for a patent
Before proceeding through a lengthy with a long and costly process, You must ensure that your idea is eligible for patent protection.
Patenting every invention or idea is not possible for all ideas. For the full requirements, you can refer to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. However, here is a summary to help you get started.
- Patents must be original and non-obvious. This means that the invention or idea must be entirely new.
Your idea will not be granted a patent if it has been described in a patent application or invented by someone else.
- Patents cannot combine two obvious or known things. You must have a unique idea or a distinctive way of combining them.
- A patentable idea can’t be too abstract. Let’s take, for example, a mathematical formula you wish to patent. Patentability is denied if the formula is not directly tied to an application or process. To be eligible, your concept must be practical and applicable in real life.
- Patents are not available for natural discoveries. If you are hiking and discovering a new animal in the woods, you cannot patent it.
- Your patent use must be clear and not speculative. You can’t assume that high doses of a potent plant extract will cure cancer if you make an anti-aging cream. To obtain a patent, you will need to describe the process.
Assuming that your idea meets all the criteria, Then you can proceed to determine the type of patent that your idea is eligible for. In the United States There are three types of patents you can issue:
- Utility patent – Approximately 90% of all patents are utility patents. These patents are issued for the invention of a new or useful process the machine, the composition of matter, or the manufacturing system. A utility patent can be obtained to improve an existing process.
- Design Patent – Design patents must include “surface ornamentation” on an object. This type of patent requires that the object and design must be inseparable. The utility patent protects the idea’s functionality, while design patents protect its appearance.
- Plant Patent – Plant patents can be issued to plants that are unique and can be asexually reproduced. This means that the plant can be propagated by cutting it or grafting it, rather than reproducing from a seed. The proof that the applicant can reproduce the plant by means of sexual reproduction is called asexual reproduction.
A patent search is a final step in verifying that your idea is eligible. This will ensure that there aren’t any existing patents on your idea or any pending applications that look too similar to yours.
Step 2 – Keep a Detailed Record of Everything
As previously mentioned, A patent is not granted merely on the basis of an idea. It might be necessary to prove with the fact that your idea is unique.
You should keep a record of all your thoughts and ideas. A notebook and any other evidence you already have. You can find everything from raw notes to sketches and corrections for mistakes. All of this could be used to prove that you are the one who thought up this idea.
Every page of your record and notes should be signed and dated. As much as possible, you should have at least one witness sign on each page.
Signing your notes with other people means that you are exposing your ideas. It would be great to have these people trust you, but they should sign NDAs (nondisclosure agreements). This will legally stop them from sharing what they see. This is particularly important if you have other people working on your concept.
Let’s suppose you have contractors or employees performing tasks for your company. You and only you own any work related to your idea. This should be clear in the NDA and contract. They are not entitled to the patent or the profits.
In addition to the patent services, LegalZoom also offers a great resource for templates and contracts, including NDAs.
Step 3 – Make a Prototype
Before you start working on your idea, it is important to have a model or a prototype ready. You file the paperwork to obtain a patent. You cannot patent just an idea. There must be more.
The prototype should be tangible, You could also show it to someone. Take, for example: If your idea is an invention that you wish to license or present to investors for funding, they will need more than just an idea.
A prototype can be used to help you with your idea, in addition to meeting the requirements of a patent. This idea can be brought to life and you may discover flaws or areas in need of improvement. This was not considered when the idea was just thoughts or words on paper.
starting with an accurate drawing that is the best way to make a prototype. During the patent application process, images will also be used. It takes more than a sketch to draw your patent idea. A professional patent drawing service is highly recommended.
Fill out an online questionnaire to describe your idea. Upload your photos and sketches, images of your idea. that The professional artist will then use these images for inspiration. You can then relax and wait for LegalZoom’s LegalZoom to send you the finalized technical drawings of your idea.
Step 4 – Apply for a Provisional patent
You might have an idea. But you aren’t quite ready to defend the invention with a patent application yet. You can also apply for a provisional or interim patent if you require additional time to prepare your application.
You can protect your idea for up to one year with a provisional patent filing while you finish your formal application. This basically holds you in line with USPTO and prevents anyone else from obtaining the rights to your idea.
LegalZoom can be used to file a provisional application for a patent. It costs just $199 plus the filing fees and is the easiest way to obtain a provisional patent online.
This service has been used more than 65,000 times to grant “patent-pending” status, so you know it’s a reputable service you can rely on.
This application requires some information such as:
- Titling of the idea or invention
- Name and address
- Address for official correspondence
- Summary of the idea
- The background of the idea
- The idea is described in detail
- If applicable, US government ownership/interests
Although drawings are not required, they are highly recommended in order to make things run smoothly. We recommend that professional technical drawings be created during the prototyping process.
Step 5 – Find a Patent Attorney
It is always in your best interests to hire a lawyer when you have something so important as a patent. This is a lengthy and costly process. The USPTO will reject your application. This could cost you up to $25,000 and two years of your time.
An attorney can help you ensure your idea is patentable, and guide you through all the details to make sure it’s valid. Patents are meaningless if your idea is not protected in court against infringers. An attorney can help ensure that your patent is bulletproof.
LegalZoom provides consultation with an attorney during the two-step process of filing a patent. To discuss your idea, you can speak over the telephone with a USPTO registered agent. This is the first step in the process, which also includes technical illustrations as well as an optional patent search. It starts at $699
LegalZoom offers free consultations for patent-related issues. You can also hire an individual attorney through this platform.
Step 6 – File Your Patent Application
You now need to file and submit the patent application. You’ll be prepared for the moment if you have followed all of the steps to patent a new invention.
If you have just filed a provisional application and are still working on your idea, you will need to wait for the official patent application. While you have up to one year to develop your idea in the “patent-pending” stage of the process, it is better to apply sooner.
The USPTO website allows you to file your patent application online. These instructions are easy to follow.
To assist with the process, we recommend that you retain the attorney you retained at the first step. LegalZoom is another great tool for patenting your idea. LegalZoom’s two-part patent service will allow you to submit the second part of your application.
A follow-up consultation will be held with a USPTO-registered lawyer who will prepare as many as two drafts of your application. The attorney will also electronically file the application with the USPTO.
Last Line — How To Patent An Idea
After the application is filed, it’s a waiting game. Two years can pass before your patent application is approved.
If you don’t have a business yet, it is worth considering starting one. The company can be used to license, sell or create your idea. For more information, please refer to our step-by-step guide on how you can start a business.