If you have a unique idea or invention, obtaining a patent for your creation is one of the most important steps of the invention process. Without getting the invention patented, other inventors can apply for the ownership rights to the idea, which means your invention is not yours anymore. By sending your application form and invention blueprints and photographs to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you can secure ownership rights for up to one year while you complete or improve your invention.
Create a prototype or working model of your invention. Keep all working blueprints and pictures for the invention so you can submit them to the USPTO.
Search online or contact a patent lawyer to determine if your invention is unique and new. Patent offices offer online databases of pending and current patents. Although the USPTO review board will decide if your invention is original and worthy of the patent, performing research beforehand can save you time and processing fees if your invention has already been patented.
File the online provisional application with the USPTO office (see Resources). The provisional application will provide you with a preliminary security of your rights to complete the invention, if needed. After provisional application status has been granted, the USPTO will send you a final application.
File your final application and turn in processing fees, pictures and other documents pertaining to the invention. The final disposition can take more than one year to finalize, depending on the amount of patents. The documents will be stored in their system in case another inventor infringes on your patent rights. Wait for the USPTO to finalize the decision and send you a follow-up letter. If the patent is accepted, you will have successfully obtained an invention patent.
- You can file an "Accelerated Examination," which guarantees a final disposition within 12 months of the provisional patent (see Resources).
- blueprint image by Igor Zhorov from Fotolia.com