You might have the latest and greatest idea for an invention or product, but without the legal protection a patent affords, it might be rendered worthless in a subsequent legal battle. Does this mean that you need to hire an expensive lawyer to protect your intellectual property rights? You might not necessarily require a lawyer and in fact there is a good chance the only thing you will require is access to the Internet. But first, you need to first consider whether your invention qualifies for patent protection under current patent law.
You Cannot Patent An Idea
Underlying the legal maxim that you cannot obtain a patent on an idea, there must also be something unique about the product or invention for it to be protected by the U.S. patent law. The applicant seeking a patent must be prepared to demonstrate how the invention works and why they believe it is new to the marketplace. Stated differently, there must be something compelling and different about the invention that sets it apart from previous ones that may or may not resemble the invention you came up with.
To protect the integrity of existing patents, federal law requires that the invention or product upon which you are asserting a legal right, not have been for sale or even known about for a period of one year before the time the applicant applies for the patent.
The process to obtaining a patent is based on the specific rules and guidelines published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You may contact them directly or you can elect to have a discount legal service handle the process for you.
Applying For A Patent – The Basics
Documentation is essential to the successful application of almost any type of patent. Essentially, you are demonstrating that the invention came from you and not from someone else. Accordingly, what you will need to do is document and diagram every part of your invention and be prepared to defend why you believe your invention or product is new, how you came up with the idea, and any other evidence you believe will prove the product or invention came from you.
Most inventors keep and maintain a journal as early as possible in the inventive process. The purpose of which is to document the thinking and process behind the claimed invention or product. This is why prototypes are so valuable – especially if you can document the dates of its construction.
Performing A Patent Search
One almost certain way to find out if your invention or product is patentable is to perform a search on whether anything like it has appeared before in any scientific journals or industry magazines or perhaps it was being used for an entirely different purpose or in a different context then from its intended use.
As you can imagine, in earlier times, conducting a search looking for related inventions or similar uses without the benefit of the Internet as a research tool must have been frustrating and expensive at best. Still, the good news is there are online discount legal services that can perform these types of searches for you if for any reason you are not up to the task.
Obtaining A Patent – Discount Legal Services
Selecting and completing all the necessary government patent forms and learning the application and patent process can be a daunting task – even for a really smart inventor. Fortunately, there are both online and offline patent application process services that can handle the paperwork and filing responsibilities for you.
The larger online services now offer the preparation and filing of different types of patents. For example, you can obtain a “provisional patent” that can protect the way your invention actually works and how it’s used in the marketplace. Some online services even provide professional patent drawing and patent search services as well.
To file and obtain a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office can cost you nearly $2,000 in filing costs and fees. Preparing all the documents and forms will cost you considerably more if you need to retain the services of an expert. All of this of course makes using a discount legal service even more compelling.