Many viable startups are based on brand new inventions or clever innovations on existing products. In order to successfully morph your invention into a legitimate business venture, it is critical that you protect your idea. The United States Patent and Trademark Office handles all patent issues, from applying for to enforcing the protections. The process takes a lot of time, in most cases at least a year, so plan ahead if your startup relies on your invention being patented prior to launch.
Protecting your idea requires more than just hiring a lawyer to apply for a patent. The process requires that you keep an inventor’s log – a hard copy, bound notebook ideas for inventionsthat chronicles the path you took to inventing your product. This log, which must be created as you go, is critical as it is the only evidence you have of the timeline of your invention. You will also need detailed drawings of your invention that show every part and aspect of your product. While you can file for a patent without these formal drawings, you will have to submit them once you are approved, so it is advisable to get them ready immediately.
You must check the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) database to be sure your idea qualifies for a patent. Search for any invention related to or similar to your invention. Be sure that your product includes specific attributes that set it apart from existing patents as you will need to explain and identify those differences in you patent application. The application itself is relatively involved, but it is a good idea to work through the process yourself prior to outsourcing the work to an attorney. The patent application includes several subparts that cover the detailed description of your invention’s structure and operation, a comparison with existing similar products, and which parts of the invention you are applying to protect. The fees to apply are currently $380 for independent inventors, but this is just the filing fee. If your patent is approved, expect to spend another bit of cash (several hundred to several thousand or more) to get your patent actually issued and in effect through your expiration date. Typically this process takes more than a year, so it is critical to plan ahead, learn all you can about how to do it right, and keep in touch with the patent examiner through the process. ideas for inventions
While it is recommended that you secure a qualified patent attorney to help you, it is also important that you work through the details so you know what is going on. There are very specific things within an application that the USPTO is looking for and an experienced attorney can ensure that your application process goes more smoothly. However, no matter how good your attorney, they are not inside your head. Thus, ensuring that your application accurately reflects your intentions requires that you be as involved as possible in completing the paperwork. There are a few very good products on the market (including ours) that very clearly walk you through the steps of a patent application, so plan to use those resources to stay involved in your product’s process.
Inventing and innovating marketable products is a rare skill and one that deserves the top level of protection. While the patent process can be tedious, having the legal protections that the USPTO provides is well worth the effort.