How to Get a Patent: A No-Nonsense Legal Guide for Inventors


by Contributor

(Jul. 16, 2019) — You’ve invented an innovative product, but is the patent process giving you a headache? Discover how to get a patent with this guide for beginners.

‘Get off my property!’ You might shout this, or worse should an unwelcome stranger trespass on your land. Similarly, if you’ve come up with a great idea for a product, you need a mechanism to protect your intellectual property.

Shouting, ‘Beware of cheap imitations’ everywhere you go wouldn’t be exactly practical. A solution is at hand. Here’s how to get a patent.

How to File a Patent Application

The United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, does not require you to have a lawyer. There’s no court, judge or ‘legal’ research involved. But, and it’s a big but, the USPTO does have rules. These can be tricky to follow.

If you want to protect an invention abroad, things are more complex. Individuals and companies should consider filing an international patent application. It’s worth hiring an expert attorney to help. If you click here you’ll find everything you need.

  1. Have a Written Record

Keep a detailed record of the process that was involved in creating your invention. This includes how the idea first came about and the steps that brought it to fruition. Log, sign, and date everything. Get two witnesses to sign as well.

You can’t obtain a patent simply based on an idea. You’ll need to show how your invention works. For your invention to qualify, it must be new and different in some critical way from any previous inventions in the same field.

  1. Commercial Sense and a Thorough Search

Applying for a patent can mean paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars. For that reason alone, you need to do your research. Make sure such an investment makes commercial sense and is worth the outlay.

You’ll need to be sure your invention is new. That means checking all prior developments made by others. To do this, you’ll have to search through patents and relevant publications and journals.

The internet’s a good place to start. You could also pay a visit to a Patent and Trademark Depository Library.

It’s normal to find inventions that are a bit like yours. You’ll have to prove your invention is distinctive from or enhances any such previous developments.

  1. How to Get a Patent by Filing with the USPTO

You can either file a full and regular patent application, known as an RPA, or a provisional patent application, a PPA. The latter is not an actual application for the patent itself. It just lets you claim ‘patent pending’ status.

A PPA requires a fraction of the work and cost of a regular patent application. Fees can cost upward of two hundred and fifty dollars. You’d also need to provide a detailed description of the invention and an informal drawing.

You have to file an RPA within a year of filing the PPA. If you don’t do this, you won’t be able to claim the PPA filing date anymore. Inventors regularly file a PPA for quick credibility and to perhaps attract investors.

Patents Mean Patience

Learning how to get a patent is similar to understanding any formal process. That takes time, research and money. You need to be sure it’s going to be worth it before you invest all the effort.

Read our editorials for more useful tips such as our comprehensive guide to flat fee legal services.

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