Patenting is the most important process when it comes to protecting intellectual property. There are people out there that will use your ideas as their own, so having the government protect your rights is essential. Not everyone is familiar with what to do when submitting a patent, so here is a step-by-step guide to get there.
Find Out What Can Be Patented
There’s a large difference between an idea and a practical process, or machine. An idea can be anything abstract from a flying vehicle to a teleportation device. You can’t just patent an idea without anything to back it up. You have to have a specific method or process to construct something at the very least. To patent something it needs to meet three criteria. It has to be new, not too obvious, and patentable subject matter.
If there is practical usage, very little things can’t be patented. Software patents and medical treatment methods are fair game, for example. To be sure, you should get yourself a patent attorney and show them a brief and concise presentation regarding your design. They will generally know if you have enough to qualify. Keep in mind, legislation prevents them from sharing your idea with a third party.
Document Every Step
Just having a design in your mind isn’t enough to warrant your patent being accepted. What you have to do is write down how it is created. This can be tricky if your potential patent isn’t a physical thing. Start off with a technical drawing. It should represent your concept in three dimensions and a show a rough demonstration of how it works. For more abstract concepts, a schematic diagram might be more appropriate. Anything that complements the written parts will help.
Being original is the name of the game when it comes to patents. Unfortunately, the burden of proof is often on you. In addition to writing and drawings, you have to document all the changes your design went through along the way. This is to show that the idea wasn’t stolen from rudimentary drawings or overheard from the actual creator. This might seem excessive, but these rules are in place to protect creators like you.
Check if it Really is Original
Your idea might seem brilliant and revolutionary from your perspective, and it really might be. But millions of inventors are constantly working to create the next big thing. It’s inevitable that someone will come up with something similar. This is why you should do research about inventions made in the same field. If someone else got there first, your patent certainly won’t be approved. It’s an arduous process but you have to do it.
Searching for previous inventions can mean looking into patent libraries in your country and possibly international ones as well. In your search, you should include a USPTO patent search, since it is the largest database you can look through. Without any guidelines, you could find yourself lost in the sea of documents. It is recommended you hire legal assistance. There are specialized patent experts that will know exactly where to look.
Competition Might Hinder You
What if your original idea is being thought of by someone else right now? Officially patenting something takes about a year. During this time, someone else might be filing for the same exact design. A kind of temporary patent claim will save your design during the long approval process. This is what’s called a “provisional patent”. Knowing whether you were the first to file this is tricky. Consider hiring professionals in patent protection to make sure your bases are covered. Now you are safe from losing your idea.
Unfortunately, this puts pressure on you to actually complete your invention before the provisional patent runs out. Once the twelve months are up, the concept is up for grabs. During this time, you should work on perfecting the design and maybe even putting it out. You can only label it “patent pending” until the official process is done, though.
The Actual Patenting Process is Next
Your design is now looked at by a commission that will deliberate on whether to give it patent status. Being the first to think of something is great, but they will demand more from your application. You don’t patent every material in the design, or every piece of machinery or software in it. A website designed with HTML probably won’t be able to patent the program used to make it. First things first, you have to make it clear what exactly you want to patent in your invention.
Next up is demonstrating its practical usage. How it can be used for its intended purpose. A prototype or working model would be great for this. It will show the commission that it’s not just patent hoarding, but an actual invention in action. After careful deliberation and more time, you’ll have a proper patent. This will allow you to sell your invention and not worry that someone might steal it.
Knowing how to patent an idea is extremely important for any inventor or entrepreneur. Great ideas are scarce and they should be protected. Nobody else should copy your hard work and earn money from it. The process can be difficult if it’s your first time, but it is ultimately rewarding. After these steps are completed, you have government-backed, full rights to your idea.