Introduction to Patenting Ideas
Learning the basic steps of how to patent an idea is crucial to avoiding
costly mistakes. Some inventors avoid patenting an idea because they
believe being first to market is all they need. Some inventors rush
into applying for a provisional patent application without any patent or
market research. All of these inventors are taking the wrong path to
patenting an idea.
How to Patent an Idea
Step 1: U.S. Patent Search
The first step to patent an idea is typically to perform a
U.S. patent search. A U.S. patent search will help you
determine if you should spend the money to patent an idea. While a
patent search is not
required by the U.S. Patent Office, it is usually the first step in the
patent process - particularly for first time patentees.
Step 2: Prepare a Patent Application for Your Idea
Assuming the patent search indicates that patenting your idea is
feasible, the next step is to prepare a patent application. You have
two main options in preparing your patent application: (1) patent it
yourself or (2) hire a patent attorney. Patenting an idea yourself can
be very difficult even for the most experienced inventors. Most
reputable people in the invention industry will recommend that you hire a
patent attorney to patent your idea. A patent attorney will have years
of experience in preparing and prosecuting patent applications with the U.S.
Patent Office which should give your idea the best chance of receiving a
Your patent attorney will send you a draft of the patent application to
review prior to filing with the U.S. Patent Office. If you have any
questions or suggestions for your patent attorney, make sure to contact them
immediately after receiving the first draft of the patent application - no
matter how simple you may believe your question is!
Step 3: File the Patent Application for Your Idea
After you approve the patent application for your idea, the next step is
for your patent attorney to file the patent application with the U.S. Patent
Office which will give you "patent
Step 4: Prosecute the Patent Application
After the patent application is filed for your idea, the U.S. Patent
Office will perform an independent patent search and send you an Office
Action (basically a patentability opinion from the U.S. Patent Office)
indicating the patentability of your invention. Most first Office
Actions result in the denial of the patent application. Your patent
attorney will then have to file a Response with the U.S. Patent Office
arguing why your idea is patentable. The Response may also include
claim amendments to help improve the patentability of your idea.
The U.S. Patent Office will hopefully respond with a Notice of Allowance
which indicates that your idea can receive a patent. However, the U.S.
Patent Office may send a Final Office Action indicating that the Patent
Examiner disagrees with the Response (you can file a second Response and/or
file a Request for Continued Examination).
Step 5: Pay the Government Issue Fee
Assuming you receive a Notice of Allowance from the U.S. Patent Office,
you then will be required to pay a government Issue Fee. After the
Issue Fee is received by the U.S. Patent Office, your idea will typically
receive a granted patent within 1-3 months.