4 Steps You’ll Need to Take to Patent Your Invention

The light bulb above your head may be shining brightly, but if you’ve had a brilliant invention idea, what do you do with it? Before you start talking to the wrong person about your invention or run straight to the first company that offers to buy it from you, it’s important that you do one thing – protect it. Whether you’re planning to produce and market your invention yourself, or license it to be used by another company, it’s first of all important to make sure that you guarantee nobody else will steal your idea, by filing a patent with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office. Here are the steps you’ll need to take.

#1. Document It:

Simply having an idea isn’t worth anything – you will need to have proof of everything including when you came up with the idea. Write down everything that you can think of which relates to your invention, from what it is and how it works to how you’re going to make and market it. This is the first step that you will need to take towards protecting your idea and ensuring that it cannot be stolen. Use an inventor’s journal to document your idea and have it signed by a trusted witness.


#2. Conduct Research:

You will then need to make sure that you conduct research on your idea from both a business and a legal standpoint. Before you file a patent, you should conduct an initial patent search; just because you’ve never seen your invention idea before doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist elsewhere. Before you spend your money on hiring an attorney or agent for your patent, you should conduct a rudimentary search for free to ensure that nobody else has patented your idea. A ‘prior art’ search will also ensure that nobody else has filed any sort of design or artwork related to your idea which would prevent you from patenting it.


#3. Make a Prototype:

A prototype is a scale model of your invention that puts all the ideas that you have into practice. This will demonstrate the design of your invention and bring it to life when you present it to potential licensees and lenders. It’s important to make sure that you have made a prototype before you file a patent; you will almost always find a flaw in your original design or find something that you would like to add and it will be too late to include these in the patent, so you could risk losing the original patent rights to someone else. You can use a program such as Gumstix to put together your prototype if it involves printed circuit boards.


#4. File a Patent:

Once you’ve got all the kinks worked out in your designs, it’s finally time to file a patent. You will need to choose from two main patents; a utility patent for new processes or machines, and a design patent, for manufacturing new or non-obvious ornamental designs. You should not file the patent until you have had it looked over by a skilled professional. Getting legal help now will help you to avoid any issues in the future.


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