How to Patent an Idea with Easy Steps

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Do you have a great idea for an invention and you are looking for how to patent an idea with minimal effort? Here are some simple steps that will help you to patent your invention without hiring any lawyer. 

how to patent an idea

How to Patent an Idea?

It is very important to patent your idea, so you can protect your ideas from others copying and benefiting from your hard work. Applying for a patent requires a large investment of time to research your idea and it’s market. You need to create a detailed drawing of your invention and you should be able to explain your invention clearly. To patent an idea, you’ll need to research it first to make sure that your idea is both original and eligible for patent protection. Many of the inventors have navigated the patent system on their own. If you are sure that your idea meets the right criteria and hasn’t already patented, apply for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Types of Patents

  • Design patents– A design patent protects an ornamental design for an article. A design consists of the visual elements of an item.
  • Plant patents– A plant patent may be granted when a developer invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.
  • Utility patents– A utility patent protects inventions, including novel processes, machines, articles of manufacture, or compositions of matter.

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Steps to Patent an Idea

Here are some simple steps to patent an idea.

1. Research Your Idea

  • You can patent your idea if it is  a process, a machine, an article of manufacture, a composition of matter, or an improvement of any of these. To determine if your idea can be patented, review the USPTO’s (US Patent and Trademark Office) list of what can and cannot be patented. The list is located on the USPTO’s website (uspto.gov).
  • Your idea should also be considered an invention, and its practical use should be apparent.
  • Computer software and designs or a new shape of boat or plane can be patented.
  • If you invent a new substance or organism, your invention is eligible for a patent.
  • Determine whether your idea is new, non-obvious and useful. Ask yourself if you heard about the idea or something quite similar before. If so, the idea is probably not new, and you probably can’t patent it.
  • To determine if your invention meets the “non-obvious” qualification, determine if it is something that others could easily think of? If so, your idea is not patentable.
  • Your idea must be one that can be put to practical use.

2. Determine whether You are Eligible to File for a Patent

  • If you are the inventor of the idea you wish to patent, you can apply for a patent.
  • If you invented the idea with another person or persons, you may apply for a patent as joint inventors.
  • f you are the inventor of the idea and have assigned the invention to another person, that person may apply for a patent.

3. Search Your Patent to Ensure that Your Idea isn’t already Patented

  • Review the University of Texas’ Guide to Patent Searching at the McKinney Engineering Library.
  • Visit a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) for expert assistance with your search.
  • Watch the USPTO’s patent search tutorial for a step-by-step slideshow on conducting a patent search.

4. Prepare Your Patent Application

  • First you need to determine that what type of licence you need. There are three types of patent:- Design Patents, Plant Patents and Utility Patents.
  • Design patents- A design patent protects an ornamental design for an article. A design consists of the visual elements of an item.
  • Plant patents- A plant patent may be granted when a developer invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.
  • Utility patents- A utility patent protects inventions, including novel processes, machines, articles of manufacture, or compositions of matter.
  • You need to file a US provisional patent. A provisional patent allows you to be the first to stake your claim to the invention. Not everyone who apply for the patent obtain the provisional, but it helps an inventor to file for protection of his or her invention, without a formal patent claim.
  • After that you have to file a US non provisional patent. A U.S. non-provisional (or formal) patent is a standard patent which protects an invention within the U.S. for 14 – 20 years. However, it depends upon the type of patent and when it was filed.
  • It typically takes between one and three years to receive a formal patent, since it is a lengthy process.

In order to receive a licence, the application must contain words and drawings that clearly:

  • Demonstrate how to make and use the invention.
  • Explain why the invention is different from all other inventions (the prior art).
  • Precisely describe what aspects of the invention should be patented.

5. Apply for a Patent

  • You need to fill an electronic application. But, before filling it you must register to obtain a customer number and a digital certificate.
  • These are the steps to obtain the customer number and digital certificate:
  • Complete the Customer Number Request Form on the USPTO website. Then fax it to the Electronic Business Center at (571) 273-0177, or mail it to Mail Stop CN, Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450. For help completing the form, contact the USPTO at 1-800-PTO-9199 (1-800-786-9199) and select option 2.
  • The digital certificate ensures that your application data is secure. To obtain a digital certificate, you must read the subscriber agreement located on the USPTO’s website. Then fill out a Certificate Action Form. Mail the completed form to Mail Stop EBC Customer Number, Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450.
  • Prepare the specification attachment. It should include descriptions of the type of invention.
  • Prepare all the necessary drawings. Almost all patent applications require drawings of the invention. The drawings are visual representations of the invention and must show every feature that is recited in the “claims.”
  • Include the oath. An inventor must make an oath or declaration that he or she believes himself or herself to be the originator of the invention. The inventor must sign the oath before a notary public or other officer authorized to administer oaths.

6. Wait for the Authorization Code and Reference Number

  • These two numbers will be provided to you after your Certificate Action Form has been processed.
  • The Authorization Code will be e-mailed to you and the Reference Number sent by U.S. mail.
  • The USPTO may also attempt to contact you by telephone in order to provide you with your Reference Number.

7. Fill out the patent application using the USPTO’s electronic filing system (EFS)

  • Log on to the EFS. Do this by uploading your digital certificate and entering the password which was assigned to you when applying for the certificate. You can upload your certificate by clicking the ‘browse’ button and browsing to the location on your computer where the certificate is saved.
  • Fill in the bibliographic data requested. Bibliographic data includes the name of your invention, your name and address, and your customer number.
  • Attach your prepared pdf documents by clicking the ‘browse’ button and browsing to the location on your computer where the documents are saved. Enter the category and description for each document you attach.
  • Fill in the bibliographic data requested. Bibliographic data includes the name of your invention, your name and address, and your customer number.

8. Wait for your application to be approved or rejected

  • Your paperwork will be considered and the USPTO will determine whether your idea is eligible for a licence. If your patent is approved, you’ll need to pay a fee before it is granted.
  • If your application is rejected, you can appeal the decision or make amendments to your application materials and submit them again.

Conclusion:-

In this article we learnt some simple steps about how to patent an idea. To file a licence requires lot of time and research but it can be done without the help of lawyer. Applying for a licence by yourself can save your huge amount of money. If you enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it.

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