Coming up with an idea for a new invention can be a highly rewarding process, but it's important to register the invention so that your ownership of the idea will be protected. You can pay an attorney thousands of dollars to help with your invention, or you can register it yourself by following a few simple steps. This effectively prevents someone else from being able to steal your idea, and hopefully marks the first step to monetizing your idea.
Get it Ready
First, solidify your brilliant idea by writing a detailed description of your invention. Illustrate the description with drawings or technical diagrams, if possible. This is the first transition of your invention from being an idea to being something tangible. It also forces you to think through your idea in detail, and may help you discover and refine any weak points or shortcomings.
Do Some Diligence
Before you to to the expense of submitting an application, perform a patent and trademark search at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This can be performed for free online at the USPTO website (found below under "Resources"). Think of keywords and keyword phrases that relate to your invention. Perform a patent search for those terms and then search through the results to see if anyone has already filed a patent on your idea. If not, or if your invention is notably different from other approaches to the same idea, proceed to the next step.
The Filing Process
File a patent on your invention. Return to the homepage of the USPTO Web site. Click "Patents" on the navigation menu. A new submenu will appear with options that relate to patents. Click the option that says "File Online in EFS-Web". Fill out the form to register your invention online. At this point the USPTO will assign a review officer to your idea, and there will be a window of time during which someone can file an opposition to your claim on the invention. If an objection is raised the outcome will be determined by an independent arbitrator, otherwise the patent will be issued and your invention will be registered.
The amount of the filing fee for a patent on an invention varies according to specific patent classifications. Most people pay around $300 to patent their idea.