The invention process can vary from invention to
invention, but the typical invention process involves the following steps:
(1) documentation, (2) confidentiality, (3) patent search, (4) patent
application and (5) selling or licensing. We have an
to give you an idea of how long the invention process can take.
STEP 1: DOCUMENT YOUR INVENTION
In the invention process, documenting your invention is the first thing
you should do. "Documenting" your invention involves creating a "paper
trail" (or electronic trail) showing that you are the first and true
inventor of the invention. Effective March 16, 2013, the United States
switched from a "first to invent" to a
"first to file" patent system, so documenting your
invention date has become less important but still can relevant in a dispute
with a third-party claiming you copied their invention.
We have an
Invention Disclosure Form you can download and use to document your
invention. You should complete this invention disclosure form to the
best of your abilities.
STEP 2: MAINTAIN CONFIDENTIALITY
Maintaining the confidentiality of your invention is important to protect
your invention until you receive a patent. Since receiving a patent
can take one to three years, having third-parties you disclose your
invention to sign a
A confidentiality agreement (a.k.a. a non-disclosure agreement) prevents
a third-party from using or disclosing your confidential invention
information without your express permission. If a third-party breaches
the confidentiality agreement, they will be in breach of the confidentiality
agreement and you can seek immediate legal redress.
STEP 3: PATENT SEARCH
The next step is to determine the patentability of your invention.
A patent search by our patent law firm is recommended to determine the
current state of the art related to your invention. You can learn more
U.S. Patent Searches including patent search fees and
what we search. Alternatively, you can perform a
Free Patent Search Online yourself.
STEP 4: PATENT APPLICATION
If your invention is patentable, the next step is to file a U.S.
with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office ("USPTO"). The patent
application is a complicated process involving not only preparing a written
description and drawings of your invention, but also includes the "claims"
section. Our experienced
Patent Professionals can prepare and file your patent application.
STEP 5: SELL OR LICENSE YOUR PATENT RIGHTS
After your patent application is filed with the U.S. Patent Office and
you have "patent
pending", you then should start marketing your patent rights
to potential "buyers" or "licensees" (i.e. manufacturers).
Keep in mind that you are selling or licensing your patent rights -
not your invention since an invention by itself
does not provide you with any legal rights. While it is possible to
sell your patent rights to a company, most of the time an inventor licenses
their patent rights to a company receiving a royalty (i.e. percentage) of
the sales by the company. We have free information on how you can
sell or license your
patent rights to a company.