Checklist for Getting a Patent

By Stephanie Dube Dwilson

Coming up with a brilliant invention can be exciting. Among the most important steps you'll want to take right away is applying for a patent. A patent will protect your invention and keep others from making the same thing and profiting from it. You'll want to start the process early because if someone else has created something similar, the decision on who gets the patent might be based on who created it first or applied first.

Stay Confidential

You'll want to keep extensive notes on the process of creating your invention, including all e-mail messages, records of meetings and information about who helped you. All of this will help establish a timeline of when you created the idea in case someone challenges your patent. It is important to keep all this information confidential. Do not publish any papers about your invention or even write an abstract about your invention for a meeting. The United States Patent and Trademark Office views publication of any kind as grounds for denying your patent application.

Talk to an Attorney

Meet with an attorney about your patent application. The USPTO doesn't require that you use an attorney to file your application; thus, you can file one yourself. However, you should talk to an attorney to find out if you would benefit from having an attorney's help. The USPTO recommends hiring an attorney because the process can be complicated and you need to word information on your application in a particular manner to get through the patent examination process.

File a provisional application for patent online. Get Started Now

Search for Prior Art

You'll need to spend time searching for prior art to see if your invention is patentable. This means you need to find out if anyone else has already created something similar. A simple Internet search is a good place to start. However, you'll also want to search the USPTO's website. The USPTO offers a seven-step strategy to help you with this process. The steps involve properly classifying your invention and brainstorming relevant keywords, accessing the USPTO's full text of patents and patent applications, and reviewing references from similar patents to see if these contain prior art.

File With the USPTO

Use the USPTO's Electronic Filing System to file your application for a patent online. You'll need to upload any relevant sketches or drawings of your invention. Your application will need to include a description of the invention, a list of co-inventors if applicable, cross references to related applications, all steps involved in making and using the invention, all claims regarding the scope of the invention that should be patented and payment of relevant fees. The USPTO's website provides detailed information about everything that should be included in your application.

Follow Up

Once you or your attorney have filed the patent application, your work isn't done. You'll need to promptly respond to any questions the patent examiner sends you or any amendments that are requested. In order to maintain your patent after it's granted, you'll also need to pay maintenance fees to the USPTO 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 years after your patent is granted.

File a provisional application for patent online. Get Started Now
Pros & Cons of Provisional Patent Application

References

Resources

Related articles

DIY: How to File for a Non-Provisional Patent

A patent protects your right to use and profit from an invention. Many individuals and businesses retain patent attorneys or patent agents to represent them in the application process, especially if the technology is complex or litigation is likely. Absent these complicating factors, it is possible to file a patent application on your own. In the United States, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) administers the examination and approval of patent applications. A non-provisional patent is valid for the full patent term – in most cases 20 years.

How to Get a Patent on an Idea for Clothing Accessories

If after you come up with a great idea for a new clothing accessory and want to begin capitalizing on it, you might consider getting a patent. If the United States Patent and Trademark Office approves your patent application, it means that no one but you has the right to manufacture and sell the clothing accessory. However, the patent application can be complicated, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the requirements at the outset.

How to Challenge a Patent

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants patents to allow inventors to enjoy legal monopolies on the beneficial uses of their inventions. Most patents are valid for 20 yeas after their initial filing date. If you believe that a patent was inappropriately or mistakenly granted, you may ask the USPTO to reexamine it. If the USPTO upholds the patent, you may appeal the decision to a U.S. federal court.

Start here. LegalZoom. Legal help is here. LLCs. Corporations. Patents. Attorney help.

Related articles

How to Acquire a Patent

A patent is a legalized monopoly in favor of the patent holder. The patent holder owns the exclusive right to use, ...

What Needs a Patent: An Idea or An Invention?

When you have a great idea, you'll be tempted to patent the idea as soon as possible. However, simply having a great ...

How Do I Patent My Idea?

A patent protects an inventor's right to produce the product he invented, preventing others from selling or using the ...

How to Write a Provisional Patent Application

Filing a formal patent application is expensive and time-consuming, and usually requires the services of an experienced ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED