How to file a patent

Legal representation may not be required to file your patent, unless you are denied and the dispute goes on to the U.S. court system. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is on hand to give you any technical help needed to file your patent. The USPTO also offers online access to patent records and application forms, making filing without a lawyer, though still complex, more practical for the inventor. Here’s a quick look at the steps necessary to get a patent:

First, you must explain the invention in detail. Document your invention efforts in a spiral-bound notebook. If possible, find a couple of people who are willing to sign as witnesses. These process notes will supply information required by the USPTO to confirm that you are the true inventor. The final description should contain information that plainly describes what you have produced as “new.” You may also have to to assemble and test the invention, depending on what it is. Your invention must be described correctly and in substantial detail in order for your patent request to be successful.

Next, you must confirm that your creation meets the criteria for patent protection. You cannot patent a theoretical idea. Your creation must fit into one of the categories outlined by the USPTO. You need to be able to demonstrate how your invention works. Your creation must be new, i.e., it must be different in some significant way from all prior inventions. It also cannot be on sale or be known about for more than a year before you file the patent application as explained in this article at

You must also avoid the issue of joint patent ownership during the patent application process. Are there service providers, associates, or other people who work for you who may claim joint ownership of the invention? Before entering into any business arrangements, these people should be required to sign an agreement transferring any rights they may have in the invention to you. You should also get similar agreements from anyone who offers guidance, recommendations and other assistance; this includes coworkers, friends and industry specialists from whom you may be seeking advice.

Now it is time to perform a complete patent search. In order to obtain a patent, you must show that your invention is not already covered by someone else’s patent. Labeled “prior arts” in federal language, previous patents must be methodically studied. You need to explore all the prior developments in your field to confirm that your invention is new. Patent searching is a lengthy process and requires patience, so you could hire a patent agency, such as InventHelp, to help you in this step. Much of the research can be conducted online at the USPTO website. You may also want to visit a Patent and Trademark Depository Library in person to look for past patents and to obtain assistance from a librarian.

Finally, prepare and file your application with the Patent and Trademark Office. You can file a provisional patent application or a regular application on your invention. When you file a provisional application, you can claim ‘patent pending’ status for the invention. The provisional application requires a shorter application process and usually a lower cost. For a provisional application, all you need is a payment of $80, a full narrative of the invention showing how to create and use it, and an informal drawing. While the regular application is more extensive, it is required for full patent protection.

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