How to Patent an Invention


Have you ever come up with a great invention but don’t know the next steps to take? You will first want to ensure that your idea is protected so that you can get the credit and compensation that your idea deserves.

A patent can allow you to capitalize on your invention and have the rights to it. Keep reading to learn more about how to patent your invention.

Types of Patents

There are many types of patents that you can apply for. You should first visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to ensure that your invention has not already been patented. A provisional patent is valid for a year, and a non-provisional patent should be filed within that same year. A non-provisional patent will keep your invention protected for 14-20 years within the United States.

A few of the most common types of patents include:

  • Design Patents
    • Design patents are made up of visual elements which includes the shape and materials used for the invention.
  • Utility Patents
    • Utility patents consist of machines, manufacturing articles, and compositions of matter. Most patents that are issued in the United States are utility patents.
  • Plant Patents
    • Plant patents are issued for newly invented type of asexually produced plant, which may include mutants, hybrids, seedlings, cultivated sports, and more
  • Reissue Patents
    • Reissue patents are issued to rectify errors in already issued patents. It generally changes the scope of the patent protection.

Searching for Patents

You will want to know if your idea or invention has already been patented before you spend time trying to patent it yourself. There are a few databases that you can search to find out if your idea or invention has already been patented including the United States Patent Office Search Page. You can find out a lot of information for free, but it is not that easy to navigate. You can also search the Free Patents Online website that offers a wide variety of information including images and relevant information. Google also has a Google Patent Search site you can look at, but it does not have the same scope of a database, and is missing some patents. It is important to take the time and search these patent databases before you spend time, energy, money and other valuable resources to patent your idea or invention.

Applying for Patents

Obtaining a patent can give you the ownership and credit that you want for your invention. It is important to first find out if your invention or idea has already been patented, or if it is eligible for a patent. A patent gives the owner the right to prohibit others from profiting, using and creating the invention in the United States. Filing a patent in the United States can be complicated and you may choose to get legal help. A patent attorney or agent can help you to navigate the patent process which can be somewhat confusing. A patent attorney or agent must pass the ‘patent bar’ exam to practice. You need to make sure that a patent agent or attorney is worth the cost. A patent attorney or agent can help you to make sure that you have all the documentation and requirements required to obtain a patent. You should do your research to find out if a patent attorney or agent is a good fit for you and your budget.

To apply for a patent in the United States you will need to:

  • Determine the type of protection that you need for your invention which may include:
    • Trademarks
    • Servicemarks
    • Copyrights
    • Patents
  • Find out if your invention able to be granted a patent-
    • You need to figure out if the patent will be approved or has already been patented.
  • Determine what type of patent you require- utility, plant, design, or reissue.
  • Determine costs, wait times, and if you need international protection for your patent.
  • Prepare and submit your patent application based on the rules and regulations set by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You may choose to do this on your own, or with a patent attorney or agent.
  • You will then wait to receive approval for your patent. Once you have received your patent, you will want to maintain your patent and enforce it.

A patent may be a great way of protecting your invention or idea. It is very important that you do your research to find out if your idea or invention has already been patented. You should also research the costs and benefits associated with obtaining a patent. A patent can allow you to stake claim to your invention, capitalize on it, and keep it protected.