Want to Patent an Idea?
Coming up with an idea leads to several steps and decisions that may need to be made to protect it. You will want to talk about your invention idea to your family, friends, co-workers, potential partners or investors to share in your excitement. During this part of the invention process you may want to discuss confidential information with others and need to have peace of mind to do so. Below are ways to protect your idea and also work towards receiving an issued patent. If you decide to file any form of intellectual property, it is suggested to conduct a patent search first.
Many inventors may be on a limited budget or may want to explore the marketability of their ideas and have a level of protection when discussing the details. An option may be to file a provisional patent to start. Here are definitions you should know directly from the US Patent and Trademark Office website:
A provisional patent application (PPA) is a patent application that can be used by a patent applicant to secure a filing date while avoiding the costs associated with the filing and prosecution of a non-provisional patent application. More specifically, if a non-provisional application is filed within one year from the filing date of a PPA, the non-provisional application may claim the benefit of the filing date of the PPA. Because a PPA is not examined, an applicant can also avoid the costs typically associated with non-provisional patent prosecution (certain attorney’s fees, for example) for a year while determining whether his/her invention is commercially viable. Further, because a PPA is not made public unless its application number is noted in a later-published application or patent, the failure by an applicant to file a non-provisional application based on his/her PPA will not lead to public disclosure of his/her invention.
Definition of a Patent
A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.
Types of Patents
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues several different types of patent documents offering different kinds of protection and covering different types of subject matter.
Utility Patent- Issued for the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof, it generally permits its owner to
exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for a period of up to twenty years from the date of patent application filing ++, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. Approximately 90% of the patent documents issued by the USPTO in recent years have been utility patents, also referred to as “patents for invention”.
Design Patent- Issued for a new, original, and ornamental design embodied in or applied to an article of manufacture, it permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the design for a period of fourteen years from the date of patent grant. Design patents are not subject to the payment of maintenance fees. Please note that the fourteen year term of a
design patent is subject to change in the near future.
How Much Does a Patent Cost?
Filing fees are available on the US Patent and Trademark Office website. In addition to these fees, you may hire an intellectual property attorney or agent which may charge by the hour or filing. Some inventors may choose to file on their own and need to follow strict guidelines to be accepted. See: Fee Schedule from the US Patent and Trademark Office
Whether you decide to manufacture or license your invention, protecting your ideas could be important for you and your intellectual property. Having the security of the world to know that you are claiming your idea can give you peace of mind to move forward for the time your protection is in full force until it becomes public domain. Once your patent is issued, it is your responsibility to protect your intellectual property from infringement and enforce your rights. Some inventors also choose to invent and receive a patent to simply hang on their wall.