Introduction to Patenting Inventions
Learning the basic steps of how to patent an invention is crucial to avoiding costly mistakes. Some inventors avoid patenting an invention because they believe being first to market is all they need. Some inventors rush into applying for a provisional patent application without any patent or market research. All of these inventors are taking the wrong path to patenting an invention.
How to Patent an Invention
Step 1: U.S. Patent Search
The first step to patent an invention is typically to perform a U.S. patent search. A U.S. patent search will help you determine if you should spend the money to patent an invention. While a patent search is not required by the U.S. Patent Office, it is usually the first step in the patent process – particularly for first time patentees.
Step 2: Prepare a Patent Application for Your Invention
Assuming the patent search indicates that patenting your invention is feasible, the next step is to prepare a patent application. You have two main options in preparing your patent application: (1) patent it yourself or (2) hire a patent attorney. Patenting an invention yourself can be very difficult even for the most experienced inventors. Most reputable people in the invention industry will recommend that you hire a patent attorney to patent your invention. A patent attorney will have years of experience in preparing and prosecuting patent applications with the U.S. Patent Office which should give your invention the best chance of receiving a patent.
Your patent attorney will send you a draft of the patent application to review prior to filing with the U.S. Patent Office. If you have any questions or suggestions for your patent attorney, make sure to contact them immediately after receiving the first draft of the patent application – no matter how simple you may believe your question is!
Step 3: File the Patent Application for Your Invention
After you approve the patent application for your invention, the next step is for your patent attorney to file the patent application with the U.S. Patent Office which will give you “patent pending” status.
Step 4: Prosecute the Patent Application
After the patent application is filed for your invention, the U.S. Patent Office will perform an independent patent search and send you an Office Action (basically a patentability opinion from the U.S. Patent Office) indicating the patentability of your invention. Most first Office Actions result in the denial of the patent application. Your patent attorney will then have to file a Response with the U.S. Patent Office arguing why your invention is patentable. The Response may also include claim amendments to help improve the patentability of your invention.
The U.S. Patent Office will hopefully respond with a Notice of Allowance which indicates that your invention can receive a patent. However, the U.S. Patent Office may send a Final Office Action indicating that the Patent Examiner disagrees with the Response (you can file a second Response and/or file a Request for Continued Examination).
Step 5: Pay the Government Issue Fee
Assuming you receive a Notice of Allowance from the U.S. Patent Office, you then will be required to pay a government Issue Fee. After the Issue Fee is received by the U.S. Patent Office, your invention will typically receive a granted patent within 1-3 months.