How to Get a Patent

Getting a patent on your own entails applying for a patent without hiring an attorney. Countless inventors have approached the patent system solo and succeeded. What’s more, there are laws in place dictating that the employees (called examiners) at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office must help you through the process.

A patent is a form of protection that grants the applicant certain rights. It can be a lengthy process, but there are several ways to go about it. When you apply for a patent you don’t have to possess any specific legal skills from the start. If you want to learn about the legality of the process it’s just like acquiring any other sort of skill, from gardening to tinkering with your car.

The steps to earning a patent vary in difficulty and simplicity. While the patent application process can be lengthy, it’s a worthwhile process to understand. If you undertake the patent process step-by-step, you can achieve success.

Filing a Patent Application

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), has outlined distinct steps on the patent application process, which makes it easy to adhere to these rules as you go. In most cases, lawyers specializing in patents must have a degree in a STEM field to pass the specific patent bar exam. One option is to make a trip to a nearby law school that has a patent clinic. There, you can learn the answers to your patent-related questions, while helping future patent attorneys gain practical experience.

Here in the U.S. (as is the case in most other nations) the government handles the filing of patents as a way of encouraging upward mobility. To make the process simpler, you might make use of the USPTO’s Pro Se Assistance program, which reaches out to potential inventors wishing to file a patent on their work. The Pro Se Assistance program helps inventors kick-start the patenting process and tells you which documenst and information you’ll need to compile. There are websites out there that, for a fee, will offer to handle this process. However, most of the time they take the money and run—or worse, steal an inventor’s idea.

There are three different types of patents:

  • Design patents
  • Plant patents
  • Utility patents

How you file for a patent will depend on your readiness, timeline, and how immediately you’ll need patent protection. To complete a patent application, you’ll need a signed and notarized oath delineating your status as the invention’s creator.

Keeping Records of Your Invention

While you’re crafting your invention, it’s wise to physically document each step of your process. Use descriptions and diagrams to chart each modification or addition to your invention, while including your conception process for the initial idea. It may also be wise to create a prototype to test your invention’s functionality.

Making Sure Your Invention Will Qualify for Patent Protection

You cannot get a patent for an idea. However, a type of process, machine, some kind of manufactured object, or any improvement on any of these prior processes should qualify for a patent. To obtain a patent, you must demonstrate how your invention works and that is new. It’s key that your invention departs in concept from any previously patented inventions.

Understanding the Commercial Potential of Your Invention

Above all, obtaining a patent is a decision based on good business. Not considering the associated fees of an attorney and the costs of specialized patent renderings, it generally costs about $1,500 to file and receive a patent from the USPTO. Before putting forth the resources and energy to fill out a patent application, get an understanding of the market you’re seeking to enter to ascertain the benefits of filing a patent.

How Much Does It Cost to Obtain a Patent?

Ascertaining the costs of a patent includes consideration of the technology used. The first step to understanding related costs is to grasp that a patent for an invention means you’ve created something distinct and new. Patent law is complex, and there are many provisions that can challenge the idea of newness or distinctness when it comes to your invention. The Supreme Court of the United States, along with the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals and the USPTO, all have many more guidelines and enforce regulations about filing unique patents.

Of course, inventors can still obtain a patent, and the advancement of technology has facilitated some of the processes that might’ve been more time consuming a decade ago. However, patenting an invention is no longer as affordable as it once was. Before obtaining a patent, have an in-depth conversation about the foreseeable costs of preparing and filing an application for a patent.

If you need help with getting a patent on your own, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.