How to Get a Patent
How do you get a patent for your invention? First things first:
Go to the source for the best information. Here is a link to
the U.S. Patent Office site: http://www.uspto.gov
. Believe it or not, they have a very useful and usable site.
Near the bottom of the first page you'll see a link to "Inventor
Resources." There you'll find all the details on what can
be patented, how to do it, how many years a patent is good for,
and the current fees.
Get a Patent Quickly
Provisional Patent Applications, made available by a recent
act of congress, give you the fastest and cheapest way to protect
your new product or invention. Filing this lets you claim "patent
pending" status for your invention for 12 months. The fees
may change, but it is around $100 as I write this (February 2006).
You have to proceed with the formal patent application within
that 12 months if you want to continue your protection.
The advantage here is that it gives you a year to see if you
have a marketable product. For a lot less money than patenting
your invention, you can protect it, so you can show it to manufacturers
and attempt to get a licensing deal. If you can't get any interest
within a year, you are free to drop the idea without having spent
thousands of dollars unnecessarily.
What can be patented utility patents are provided
for a new, non-obvious and useful:
Article of manufacture
Composition of matter
Improvement of any of the above
Note: In addition to utility patents, encompassing one of the
categories above, patent protection is available for (1) ornamental
design of an article of manufacture or (2) asexually reproduced
plant varieties by design and plant patents.
What cannot be patented:
Laws of nature
Literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works (these can be
Copyright protected). Go to the Copyright Office.
Inventions which are:
Not useful (such as perpetual motion machines); or
Offensive to public morality
Invention must also be:
Adequately described or enabled (for one of ordinary skill in
the art to make and use the invention)
Claimed by the inventor in clear and definite terms
Use the link above to the Patent Office and look over all
the resources there. For trademark information, you can also
go to the Patent Office site and use the link on the home page.
They have made online trademark research fairly easy now.