This article provides information about how to patent an idea, how to get a patent and how to file a patent.
Governments do not issue patents for ideas.
Ideas, thoughts or inspirations do not not qualify for a patent.
Expressions or publication of thoughts that are not inventions, like this page for example, are protected by copyright.
Publication of unique symbols or word designs are protected by trademark.
An invention idea is usually about how you can solve a problem. But you have to make the solution (an invention) before you can get a patent.
Your idea has to result in something real and tangible to obtain a patent. An invention must also be new, unique, and useful.
How To Get A Patent
Lets say you have this idea that "socks should not get holes in them".
This might be a good invention idea. Lots of people wear socks.
Most people would probably want socks that didn't get holes in them.
This is an invention idea, meaning it gives you an idea for something you could invent - "a sock that doesn't get holes."
Once you have this idea, the very first thing you should do is conduct a patent search.
If your patent search doesn't find anything like your idea, you could start working on developing your invention.
As you progress with your invention you might experiment and test materials, spending long hard hours on your invention.
Let's say you invent a coating that you can put on wool thread. This makes the socks durable. You make some socks using this new wool material. They're comfortable and have a unique and different look to them.
But your new thread is not easy to work with so you adapt a sewing machine to make it easier to sew socks.
This was a lot of work and you actually have created more than just one invention.
You may feel ready to protect your invention by obtaining patents. But there are still other steps to take.
You should keep a written record of your invention. This helps prove the date of conception and that you're the inventor. This is important even after the first-to-file amendments take effect at the us patent office.
You should research the commercial viability of your invention. The more you can prove that your invention will be profitable and marketable - the better chances you have of being successful.
How To File A Patent
A patent application includes forms and drawings and describes in detail how to make and use your invention. Your application includes claims which are the unique aspects of your invention that you're asking be granted to you in your patent.
Although we don't recommend filing your own patent; a good reference about patenting is "Patent It Yourself", an excellent book for understanding the criteria required for filing a patent.
This book can save you money and time because it gives detailed and easy to understand information about the process.
It explains what you can do yourself and what you will need to provide to an attorney or agent.
The author, David Pressman, was a patent examiner for the U.S. Patent Office and is a patent attorney. It is recommended reading for inventors.
Once you file your application, the patent office follows a process known as a patent prosecution.
A patent office examiner will respond to your application (usually fifteen months or later) and give you his/her approval, objections, or request for clarification to your application and may ask for further requirements.
The examiner will also give you reasons for their response.
It's not unusual for some or many of your claims to be initially rejected. Your lawyer would then prepare your response, which may include changes to your claims, or arguments concerning the validity of your claims or reasons for reconsideration based on errors made by the examiner.
Changing your claims cannot include new information. Any new aspects of your invention that were not included in your original application will not be accepted. This is to prevent inventors from adding new inventions to an existing application.
Responses must be received by the patent office within a given time period (usually three months) although monthly extensions can be obtained for a fee. If a response is not received within six months, the US patent office will consider your application abandoned.
Once a response is reviewed - the examiner will reply with either a final rejection or an approval of your application.
There are remedies to a rejection including an appeal process.
A provisional patent application is a written description of the full scope of the subject matter of your invention, and any drawings, but without any claims or any information disclosure statement or any oath or declaration.
It's not a patent application and will not result in getting a patent. It is not examined to see if your invention is new and unique.
It's purpose is to tell the US Patent Office when your invention was conceived and it allows you 12 months to prepare your invention for a patent application.
A provisional application allows you to claim "patent pending" status, which indicates to others that you have made a filing of your invention with the patent office.
It doesn't allow you to sue anybody for infringing because you don't have a patent, however it does deter others from copying you because you could sue once you get a patent.
You have 12 months to develop your invention, to make prototypes, and to conduct market tests, before filing your patent.
The reason for provisional applications, is to allow inventors to establish a date-of-invention or "priority date" with the patent office while they prepare their invention for a formal patent application.
As mentioned, we recommend that inventors consult the advice of a patent attorney or patent agent regarding this process.
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