Patenting Your Invention
Think you need a patent for your new invention idea? There are many questions you will want to answer before you go through the process of filing for a patent.
The reality is that most ideas that are patented never get made into actual products.
So before you go about pursuing the idea of patenting your product, you really need to make sure your patenting your idea makes legal and economic sense.
You need to do the necessary research on many things including to make sure that you can legally patent your idea, that the commercial opportunity is significant enough for patenting to make sense and that there are no practical roadblocks to making your product. You can read more about the type of research you should do by reading how to do the necessary market research for your invention idea.
After you determine that your invention idea is actually worth protecting and can be protected with a patent, the question you need to ask yourself is whether patenting your invention makes sense.
Do You Really Need A Patent For Your Invention Idea?
Did you know that most of the products that go to market are not patented? You do not need a patent to have your product idea sold on the market.
The most important question is whether you really need a patent. Why are you interested in filing for a patent? Is there something else you can do to protect yourself instead of having to go through the whole patenting process? Would filing for copyrights or trademarks make more sense in your case?
Most people assume that you need a patent in order to discuss an invention idea without losing the rights to it. But depending on the circumstances, you may be able to get the type of protection you are seeking for initial discussions on your idea with a strong confidentiality agreement.
Also, the timing of filing a patent application really depends on a number of different factors. So even if you think you should patent your idea, think also of when it makes the most sense to get started.
New Laws Are In Place For Filing A Patent On Your Invention Idea
Significant changes to U.S. patent laws were put into effect in September 2011. Patent protection is now based on a first to file system, rather than the old first to invent system for all patents filed after March 16, 2013. The new patent laws also expanded the definition of prior art used in determining patent-ability. We caution all inventors to look carefully at any patent information or advice relating to patents to make sure that if it was published before September 2011, that such information is relevant and accurate. There is a ton of old and outdated information still out there, so be careful in making sure that the info you are using is based on the new laws.
How Much Does It Cost To File A Patent On Your Invention Idea?
It is important for new inventors to understand that the patenting process is a challenging and expensive one. How much does getting a patent cost? The simple answer is that it depends. It really depends on what your invention is about and what you want to file a patent on. The patent process is very expensive. We are not talking about hundreds of dollars, we are talking about thousands of dollars. And if you take your invention idea through the whole process, we are typically looking at total costs in the $5,000 to $30,000 range.
The first step in getting a patent is doing a good patent search. An inventor can do one on his own (and he should do one on his own first) but it is usually prudent to hire a professional to assist you with the search. A patent search with opinion will typically cost several thousand dollars. And that's just several thousand dollars spent to see if someone else has already has a patent for your idea.
Then the next step will be in filing a provisional or non provisional patent application. It is safe to assume that the costs for simply filing a patent application for your invention will typically range anywhere from $5000 for the simplest patent to $20,000 for more complicated patents if you use an attorney or agent.
And after you file your patent, you need to assume you will need several thousands more for post-filing costs.
If you can afford the thousands of dollars that it will cost you to start the patenting process and you have both the time and money to file a patent on your invention idea, then you should do a lot of research and reading about the patenting process. DO NOT JUST RELY ON A PATENTING INVENTION COMPANY TO FILE A PATENT FOR YOU! The more you know, the more you'll save and use your time and money wisely in your invention. Here are resources to help you get started:
Patent Searches and Registration
USPTO - free patent search
Freepatentsonline - free patent search
Patent Genius - free patent search
World International Property Organization Patent Search Tool - Site where you can search worldwide patent applications and filings.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office - Inventor's Assistance Center - Offers general patent assistance to the public. Helping an answering questions you may have about patent examining policies and procedures and help you in answering questions about forms.
USPTO Patent Ombudsman Program - Here is a terrific collection of all the telephone numbers and descriptions of various offices of the USPTO so that if you need to contact them, you can figure out where to go and how to reach them.
Other Places to Do Your Research and Find Answers
IPLawBlog - Excellent law blog by lawyers on IP issues.
PatentlyO Blog - Excellent law blog by lawyers on IP issues
InventorSpot.com forum for inventors
Helpful Articles from InventorSpot.com(published prior to Septbemer 2011) - still helpful but may be out of date in parts
Ten Rules Every Inventor Should Know - by David Pressman
Be Like Sherlock in Your Patent Search - Myra Per Lee
To Market, To Market - How do Inventors Go? (1)- Myra Per Lee