As discussed above, you can patent inventions, designs, and even some plants as long as your invention is:. Your research should include a USPTO patent search to make sure that a patent has not already been issued, or is pending, for your invention, design, or idea.
You may additionally want to take a look at foreign international patents and review related scientific and technical journals. You can read more specific details in this beginner's guide to patent searching. You should also consider some market research to determine if your idea, when developed, will make enough money to justify the time and cost of developing it into a patentable invention or design.
Your market research will include an analysis of products on the market that accomplish similar tasks to your invention as well as an evaluation of your potential competitors. It is strongly recommended that you have a prototype of your invention when filing for a patent. A model or prototype of your invention highlights all the features in your inventor's journal. It also provides you with something tangible that you can show to potential investors and licensees. Most importantly, you may discover problems with your design during the prototype development process that will need to be fixed before obtaining your patent.
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Your prototype may be as simple as a diagram or drawing, but developing an actual working model, if possible, is the best way to go. Here are some guidelines to creating a prototype:. Start with a drawing. Sketch out your invention in your inventor's journal. Finally, create a fully-working model. If a prototype is too costly in real-life, consider a virtual computer rendered prototype.
Here are the main issues you will need to resolve during the patent filing process:. Cost: The actual patent application process can be expensive. Startups may need to find investors or take out loans to fund their patent filing. Patent Type: As discussed above, there are three main types of patents : utility, design, and plant patents. You will need to determine the right patent type for your idea, but in most cases, your choice will be a utility patent.
Provisional Patent Application: Before filing an actual non-provisional application for your patent, you may want to consider filing a provisional patent application. Not to be confused with the application for the patent itself, a provisional patent application is a document filed with the USPTO that establishes an early filing date for the subsequent filing for a non-provisional utility patent. A provisional patent application requires the inclusion of a specification, but is filed without a formal patent claim, oath or declaration, or information disclosure statement.
It must be followed up with the filing of the non-provisional patent application within 12 months. A non-provisional application, known as a Regular Patent Application RPA , is what is filed to obtain the actual patent that protects your invention or design.
How Patents Work
In order to receive a patent, the application must contain words and drawings that clearly:. Filing can be done electronically, by mail, or by hand delivery. However, it is important to note that all attachments must be in. First-time filers will begin by applying for a Customer Number for correlating all filings and correspondence and Digital Certificate for security purposes. It should include:. An explanation of the invention detailing: how it is constructed, what it is made of, and how it works.
The claim should be written in sentence fragments starting with a capital letter and ending in one period with no quotation marks or parentheses. Dependent claims after the independent claim that are descriptive remarks and drawings of the invention broken down into single parts of the item.
Patent process overview | USPTO
You must also prepare drawings that show every feature in the claims. Patent drawings have strict requirements for the materials, size, form, symbols that can be used, sharing, size of paper, margins, color, font, etc. You will also need to include a signed and notarized oath from the inventor declaring that the inventor believes himself or herself to be the originator of the invention. The oaths can be found here:. Once you have received your authorization code and reference number through mail or phone after your certificate action form has been processed, here are detailed instructions on how to fill out your patent application using the USPTO's Electronic Filing System EFS :.
Once you have filed your patent application, the USPTO begins its process of review which will include a thorough patent search. If rejected, you or your patent lawyer can appeal the decision and respond why your idea is patentable or make amendments to your application. You can expect to finally receive your patent approximately one to three months after the Issue Fee is paid.
Overall, the time between filing for and receiving your patent is typically one to three years. However, once your patent is granted, your invention or design will be protected for 14 to 20 years depending upon the patent type. After receiving the patent, remember that the inventor must enforce the patent after it is issued. You can do this by:. At this point, it is very important to note that you should strongly consider hiring a patent lawyer.
A patent lawyer does not just file a patent for you. For example, in Europe, things such as computer software or methods of performing mental acts are not patentable. The subject of what should be patentable is highly contentious, particularly as to software and business methods.
After filing, either systematically or, in some jurisdictions, upon request, a search is carried out for the patent application. The purpose of the search is to reveal prior art which may be relevant to the patentability of the alleged invention that is, relevant to what is claimed , the "claimed subject-matter". The search report is published, generally with the application 18 months after the priority date of the application, and as such is a public document.
The search report is useful to the applicant to determine whether the application should be pursued or if there is prior art which prevents the grant of a useful patent, in which case the application may be abandoned before the applicant incurs further expense. The search report is also useful for the public and the competitors, so that they may have an idea of the scope of protection which may be granted to the pending patent application. In some jurisdictions, including the U.
In such case, a separate search report is not issued, and it is not until the application is examined that the applicant is informed of prior art which the patent office examiner considers relevant.
Examination is the process of ensuring that an application complies with the requirements of the relevant patent laws. Examination is generally an iterative process, whereby the patent office notifies the applicant of its objection see Office action. The applicant may respond with an argument or an amendment to overcome the objection. The amendment and the argument may then be accepted or rejected, triggering further response, and so forth, until a patent is issued or the application is abandoned.
Once the patent application complies with the requirements of the relevant patent office, a patent is granted further official fees, and in some regional patent systems, such as the European patent system, validating the patent requires that the applicant provide translations of the application in the official languages of states in which they desire protection. The date of issue effectively terminates prosecution of a specific application, after which continuing applications cannot be filed, and establishes the date upon which infringement may be charged.
Furthermore, an issue date for an application in the U. Many jurisdictions require periodic payment of maintenance fees to retain the validity of a patent after it is issued and during its term. Failure to timely pay the fees results in loss of the patent's protection. The validity of an issued patent may also be subject to post-issue challenges of various types, some of which may cause the patent office to re-examine the application. A patent application generally contains a description of the invention and at least one claim purporting to define it.
Furthermore, an abstract is generally required. For example, an international PCT application "must contain the following elements: request, description, claim or claims, one or more drawings where drawings are necessary for the understanding of the invention , and abstract. As another example, a European patent application consists of "a request for the grant of a European patent, a description of the invention, one or more claims, any drawings referred to in the description or claims, and an abstract. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Main article: Patentable subject matter. Further information: Patent prosecution. The information content of at least some of these patent documents if not recovered from somewhere else, e. See X-patents. Some examples of confusion in the United Kingdom Patents Act are given in this decision. April Retrieved March 9, Briefly, an outline of the PCT procedure includes the following steps: Filing: you file an international application, complying with the PCT formality requirements, in one language, and you pay one set of fees.
What are the elements of an international application?
World Intellectual Property Organization. Retrieved 23 February Guide for applicants. Part 1: How to get a European patent. European Patent Office. June 1, Categories : Patent law. Hidden categories: All Wikipedia articles needing clarification Wikipedia articles needing clarification from July Namespaces Article Talk.
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