When you have an idea for an invention, you might be tempted to keep it a secret and make money on your invention for yourself. Unfortunately, unless you want to spend a lot of time and money going through the patenting process yourself, you’ll probably need to find someone who can help you with the process.
Inventor ideas should be protected. Inventors may have many reasons why they want to patent their ideas. They might want to protect their invention from being copied by others or stop someone else from using their idea without permission. Other inventors want to sell their idea or license it to someone else so that they can profit from it.
When an inventor comes up with a new idea for something — whether it’s a product or process — the inventor must decide whether he or she wants to protect the idea legally by applying for a patent. If so, then he or she will need to find an attorney skilled in patent law who can work with him or her on the application process and represent him or her at any court hearings that may be necessary if another party challenges his or her patent rights in court after it has been granted by the U.S. Patent Office.
The process of patenting an invention begins with a patent search. This is a critical step because it enables you to determine whether your invention is unique and whether there are any third parties who have already patented similar inventions. If this is the case, you may want to consider making some changes to the design or functionality of your product.
The next step is to file a provisional application for patent in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This document will enable you to claim an invention as your own for one year from the date of filing. You do not need to hire an attorney at this stage, as there are no fees associated with provisional applications. However, once you file a provisional application, anyone can see how your invention works and build upon it during that one year period. This can lead to significant problems if someone steals your idea or uses it without permission after learning about it through examining your provisional application.
If there are no other patents on similar inventions, then you can move forward with filing a non-provisional application for patent in the USPTO. This step requires hiring an agency, such as InventHelp, because it involves paying fees and submitting extensive paperwork that includes drawings showing how your invention works. The process may take several months but, once completed, you will have a patent that is valid for 20 years.