1. How to Patent: Everything You Need to Know
2. Patent Costs in the United States
3. Self-Drafting

How to Patent: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re trying to learn more about how to patent, you’ll first need to determine whether or not your idea or invention qualifies for patent protection. A patent prohibits others from using, creating, or selling your invention. Thus, it is a grant of a property right to the owner. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues patents in the United States.

If you have a great idea, don’t ignore it. But keep in mind that ideas themselves cannot be patented. The invention itself, however, can be patented. There are some basic guidelines you can follow to ensure that your invention is introduced to the public, while also being protected from others who may want to use or sell it without your permission. Don’t be afraid of the patent process. While it can be rather time-consuming, costly, and complex, if you feel confident that your invention will succeed, you should accept the challenge.

Patent Costs in the United States

Trying to ascertain the costs associated with patenting an invention in the United States can be rather difficult as it depends on the technology involved. It is important to understand that the act of patenting an invention can bring challenges. In order to better understand the costs associated with patenting your invention, you should consider the type of invention you have. How complex is it? If complex, the process may be costlier and more time-consuming. If you have a simple invention, however, the patent review may not take as long, and thus, will be cheaper. If you hire an attorney to assist you in the application process, you’ll be responsible for legal fees, which won’t come cheap with patent applications. The more complex your invention is, the higher the legal fees will be. You’ll want your application to be as strong as it can be in order to be successful in patenting your invention.


While it is advisable to hire a patent attorney to assist you throughout the process, you might choose to do it alone. Filing a patent on your own will cost a lot less, but be mindful that it takes a lot of time. It may take even more time for you as you lack the professional knowledge. So, if you do choose to do it on your own, keep in mind that you will need to conduct your own patent search. Google allows you to search for current patents and will provide you with academic papers and other related websites to find what other inventors, if any, have an invention similar to yours.

In the patent application, you’ll want to show how your invention improves upon any previously developed inventions that are similar to yours. Also, when filing your patent application, you should consider which type of patent to file. There are three types of patents – utility, design, and plant. You cannot patent laws of nature, physical phenomena, abstract ideas, literary, artistic ideas, or works of art. You will need a copyright for works of art.

  • Utility patent. Such patents are for processes, machinery, articles of manufacture, and compositions of matter (i.e. a drug). Additional requirements include the fact that the invention must provide some utility to the public, cannot be offensive, must be novel, non-obvious, and described in detail. Utility patents carry protection for a period of 20 years.
  • Design patent. You’ll want to apply for a design patent if you have an invention for a new or improved design. You’ll receive protection for a period of 14 years.
  • Plant patent. This type of patent is applicable if you develop a new asexually-reproductive variety of a plant. Plant patents carry protection for a period of 20 years. For this type of patent, you can speak with an expert at the nearest Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL).

You may even want to reach out to others who operate in the same field as you to see if they patented their inventions and how they went about the process. You can reach out to these individuals through social networks.

If you need help patenting your product or learning more about the costs associated with the process as well as your options, 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.