Invention Ideas Patents: Everything You Need to Know

Invention, Ideas, Patents – you are familiar with each one, but you don’t know what to do with your invention or idea. Should you patent it? Well, keep in mind the most important fact here. An idea cannot be patented; only an invention can be protected by a patent. There are other guidelines to the patent process that you should be mindful of before determining whether or not to apply for patent protection. With that being said, however, don’t be afraid of the process. You’ll want to do some research to ascertain whether or not your invention is worthy of a patent, and especially whether or not your invention has already been marketed and protected.

A patent provides that no one else can use or benefit from the invention. Therefore, you are granted full and complete protection of your invention, which is given to you by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

How Much Does a Patent Cost?

A patent can be pretty costly, especially if you are applying for a utility patent. But if you want to obtain patent protection, you’ll fill out a nonprovisional patent application. The fee associated with the application could be quite high once you include the maintenance, issuing, search, and other miscellaneous fees. In addition, if you choose to hire a qualified patent attorney to assist you throughout the process, the fees could be several thousand dollars depending on how complex your invention is.

When filing your patent application, you’ll want to have a strong application to submit to the USPTO to ensure that you have a high likelihood of being successful in your application. What’s more, you don’t want the patent examiner assigned to your application to have to send back questions with additional amendment requests, as each amendment will cost you more money.

Do it Yourself

While it may be best for you to hire a patent attorney, you may want to file your patent application on your own. If you choose to go this route, make sure you conduct your own patent search beforehand to ensure that your invention is not already being used or, even worse, being sold on the market! Google has a patent search engine that you can use, or alternatively, you can visit the USPTO website to conduct your search. You can also reach out to your family and friends who may know someone who went through the process or who themselves have gone through the patent application process, and can assist you with any questions you may have.

Another good idea is to see if anyone in your network knows a patent attorney. If so, you may be able to seek legal help at little to no cost if the attorney doesn’t mind helping out a friend of a friend. At the very least, you can obtain some legal help with regard to broad questions you have for the process, and use those answers to help you in your own patent application.

What If I Want to Sell My Idea or Invention?

Option 1: Quick Payoff

You can earn a lump sum of money if you sign the rights to your invention or idea over to someone else. This would be a good option if you need the money, or if you just don’t have the time, resources, or ability to work on expanding upon your idea or invention.

Option 2: License Your Idea

Licensing can be a benefit to both you and the licensee, as you can earn some additional funds while letting your licensee do the work for you. While you’ll have to pay your licensee for the time and effort he or she puts into selling your product, i.e. 5-20% for product sold, you’ll still benefit from the sales and expansion of your idea or invention.

Option 3: Become an Advisor of Your Product

If you just can’t let go of your idea or invention, want to see it expand, but just don’t have the time or ability to do so, you can play an advisory role in your product’s expansion. This simply means that you can remain involved in the process while also having a significant influence over the expansion of your product. You have some choices if choosing to become an advisor, which include finding a partner who can do more of the work on your behalf and who can provide the financing for such expansion or provide the funding yourself but still allow the partner to do a lot of the work and have a say in the expansion of your product.

Option 4. Give Your Idea Away

Well, believe it or not, some people choose to go this route. If you believe that your product or ide should be given away (for free), then you can certainly give it away. But just be careful; the last thing you want to do is give your idea or product away and find out that the person you gave it to has financially benefitted quite significantly from it! But if you care more about the idea than the money, than this could be a good option for you.

Option 5. Do Nothing Right Now

If now is not the right time for you to work on your idea or product and its expansion, then you may just want to sit tight for the time being. This doesn’t mean that you can’t revisit the idea at a later date. Maybe you have young children, and need to wait for your kids to be a bit older and out of the house before you can dedicate the time and effort you want to expanding your idea or product.

The Best Ways to Sell an Idea without Getting a Patent

Getting your product, idea, or brand patented can be rather time-consuming and expensive. Some other options for protecting or expanding your idea or product without obtaining a patent include the following:

Provisional Patent. If you want to sell your invention or idea even though it doesn’t have a patent on it, you can obtain what’s called a provisional patent. The provisional patent application requires you to fill out a form and pay a small fee. Once you do this, which can take only minutes online, you can claim that your invention is “patent pending.” This will protect you for a period of 12 months, at which time you must then fill out a non-provisional patent application for full protection. If not, you will lose the protection you had over your invention.

Invention Submission. Another way that you can sell your invention without obtaining a patent is to submit your invention online to a few companies. If you look online, you’ll be surprised to find that many companies offer new inventors free invention submissions. Thereafter, the company will review your invention and determine whether they believe it an invention worth patenting.

If you need help applying for a patent or have an idea or invention that you want to sell, 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.