If you have a great invention idea, you may spend months – even years – making your idea a reality. You may make multiple protypes and test them extensively until you create a product design that works just right. You plan to sell your invention because you feel people will find it useful and easy to use. Maybe you have dreams of getting your product backed on Shark Tank, so you can broaden your product production and marketing.
Before you get that far, though, you know you might need a patent. You want to protect your invention, to avoid having someone else copy it and undercut your product sales. Yet, you feel a bit overwhelmed by the patent process. What steps are involved in getting a patent?
Here are seven steps to take when you want to file a patent for an invention:
- Select a patent attorney to help you file your patent, so you can avoid making mistakes in the patent process and have help gathering the documentation you need to get your patent approved.
- Conduct a patent search (your attorney may help you with this) to ensure someone else doesn’t have a patent on an invention that is very similar to yours.
- Determine which type of patent you need or if you need more than one patent. You can choose between applying for a utility patent (which will protect the engineering of your product or your new process or compositions of matter you used in your invention) and a design patent (which will protect the ornamental design of your product). You may need to apply for both. If you’ve engineered a new type of plant, you will file for a plant patent.
- File for a provisional patent. You want to have a provisional patent on file because then if someone claims they invented a similar product before you did, you have proof of when you applied for a patent.
- Gather the documentation you will need for your formal patent. This will include information from your attorney on legal scope of what your patent will protect.
- Complete your formal patent application.
- Respond when your patent examiner has any questions or concerns about your patent. Have your attorney update you when those are needed and when you might expect your patent to be approved.
It sometimes takes up to three years to have a patent approved. Having an attorney help you with your patent application can keep your application on track. You also can avoid having an mistakes or errors lead to having your patent denied. You want to make your best attempt to receiving a patent on your first try, so you know your invention is protected for years to come.