How to Legally Protect a Product Idea

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Conduct a "patentability search," which will tell you if there are similar products to your own already in existence and patented. You need to do this to ensure that your idea is not infringing on someone else's patent rights.

Obtain the services of a reputable patent attorney. It's better to have a professional help you navigate the application process, as the way you word your application can have a huge impact on how protected your product is.

Gather detailed records of your product idea. You will need to prove how your idea evolved before you can submit your patent application. It is also better if you limit the number of people you tell about your idea; in fact, for your own protection it is preferable not to tell anyone but your lawyer about it until you have received your patent.

Fill in the application form and then submit it. You can visit the patent and trademark office in your country or you can have your attorney obtain one for you. Depending on how complicated your idea is, a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will cost between $1,000 and $100,000 and will take an average of 24.6 months to obtain after you have submitted your application. It will last for 20 years if your idea is related to utilities or plants and 14 years if it is a design patent.

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About the Author

Based in Leeds, United Kingdom, Nicola Gordon-Thaxter has been writing sales articles since 1995. Her articles have appeared in the "Milton Keynes Citizen" and on the ePolitix website. Gordon-Thaxter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of the West Indies and is completing a Master of Arts in writing from the University of Leeds.

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