An idea is not patentable but you can patent an invention. The general public is hence unable to distinguish whether what they have is an idea or an invention. In most cases, what you think is an idea qualifies as an invention. An inventor who wishes to acquire an intellectual property right in the United States must prepare a supporting disclosure of the invention for patent filing. The disclosure is crucial in all 20-year-long intellectual property rights.

What does all this mean? This means that your idea must have a structure. You are most likely on your way to a patentable invention if you can draw diagrams of your new product or process and explain how it works.

The simple bargain in the patent issuance is that the government allows the inventor to have the exclusive rights of its invention. This is in exchange for understanding the invention to practice and benefit from it.

Table of content

What inventions are patentable?

What are the criteria for a patent filing?

How to Get Patent filing in 5 Steps

When Should be Patent Filing done?

You have an idea that you think can be patentable. Patent filing will help protect it.

What inventions are patentable?

A patentable invention is defined by the United States Patent Law as a machine or appliance, a process or method that makes something, an article of manufacture or composition of the material, which creates new materials from other materials, or a machine.

Patents grant the patent applicant the intellectual property rights to an invention. Intellectual property rights include trade secrets like special ingredients, trademarks, used to identify products for words or symbols, and copyrights that establish authorship of software, art, and architecture.

What are the criteria for a patent filing?

One criteria of patent filing is that your invention must be original.

To determine whether an invention is patentable, inventors must meet several criteria. The following four criteria are the most important:

  1. Your invention must be original: This means that your invention or one of its elements has to be completely new. These inventions are called prior art. To ensure your invention is original, you can search for patents through the United States Patent and Trademark Office USPTO or online.
  2. Your invention must not be obvious: This is the most important criterion for patentability. Your invention must include (or be able to include) elements that are not easily discovered by a person who isn’t an expert in the field. It may be difficult to patent a machine to mix paint colors, as people in this industry are familiar with the process.
  3. Patentable inventions: These inventions can include machines, processes, and articles of manufacture. The non-patentable subject matter is theories and methods, natural processes such as plants growing from sunlight or soil, and anything that can be done by a person using their body, such as running, stretching, or jumping.
  4. Your invention must be practical: This means it has to be useful in an industrial setting. it must be possible to actually manufacture the new invention. In other words, you can apply for a patent on a new kind of playing card that is easier to hold than existing cards. But you can’t obtain a patent for an idea for a new card game.

How to Get Patent filing in 5 Steps

You have an idea that you think can be patentable. You’ve weighed the benefits and costs. You’ve decided that you want a patent.

Let’s now discuss how to get a patent on the idea. This article will guide you through each of the key steps involved.

Step #1: Know Your Invention

First, you need to understand your invention. What is the unique factor that’s making your invention useful and new?

It is after identifying these elements that you consider the scope of your invention or design. Is your invention possible in another manner? You can use a hinge to replace the slide. What happens if you change the length of a slide that closes your mug? Understanding the different ways that another person can use your invention if theirs fail, is paramount.

As an inventor, it is important to consider the use of your invention in a wider context. For instance, can you use your new mug closure for another purpose? Can you use it to close larger devices, such as an alcohol distillery, on a larger scale? Are there any further modifications that would be necessary? This allows you to understand your invention and know how best you can design it for ease of protection and search.

Step #2: Perform a Patent Search using a Patent Database

Next, conduct an Internet patent search on your idea by using one of the many patent databases. This will enable you to determine if your invention is truly new, as discussed above. Moreover, you are in a position to know whether other patents exist for similar inventions.

You can search for patents within the United States Patent and Trademark Offices with many patent databases. It is important to take the time to learn about the limitations of this search. This search might not be exhaustive and may not prove that your idea exists. The existence of a similar patent saves you time and money before submitting your application.

Patent search ensures all the criteria of  patent filing are met

Step #3: Select the Type of Protection for Your Invention

If you want to get a patent on file but leave some room to tinker, you may consider filing for a provisional patent application.

The provisional application proves that you are the inventor at the time you file the patent. You have up to a year before you file the actual patent application. What most people refer to as a patent is actually a utility patent. You can then test and refine the prototype you have built. However, you cannot add anything new. To get the benefits of super sensitive pressure sensors in your new prototype, you must file a new patent request.

The non-provisional application, also known as a Utility Patent Application, is the formal application. One needs to submit it to the United States Patent and Trademark Office in order to begin the patent process. A provisional application which comes first must be filed within a year. This application will grant your idea patent-pending status.

Step #4: Draft and File Your Patent Application

It can be difficult to draft a patent application. If you do it correctly, your chances of securing patent rights are high. Failure to follow the correct procedure may subject your patent to no issuance. There are many parts to an application, including claims, drawings, and specifications. Such may be rejected for technical or formal reasons. It is advisable to look for the assistance of a skilled professional to protect your invention.

The professional can’t do it all as they are the medium through which your idea is put in writing. To capture the essence of the invention you want to protect, you need to work closely with your patent professional.

If you choose a professional to represent you, you should be ready to give them any written information, drawings, or descriptions of your invention to help them understand what you are trying to protect. It is highly commendable for you to have a one on one detailed discussion on the application. A draft of the application enables you to easily read and discuss it with the professional on what it will protect before filing. You can then make any final adjustments before filing to ensure it meets your approval. The rights and security of your patent depend on a successful filing application.

Step #5: Patent Prosecution

After patent filing application on the invention, the examiner will validate its uniqueness. This means that no other person has claimed to invent it prior to your patent filing. In order to achieve this, you must conduct a thorough search of prior disclosures and other references either online or in a printed form.

The patent examiner will also pass a judgment related to the non-obviousness of the patent. This could be a complex aspect to comprehend. However, a simple and not completely precise alternate for non-obviousness is non-trivial. In order for your invention to deserve the exclusive intellectual property right of over 20 years, it must be original. It must also be adequately substantial and should advance what is already known.

The patent examiner will also determine whether the patent filing application includes the supporting disclosure and is satisfactory enough to comprehend the way used for the making of the invention. The fulfillment of all the necessary requirements guarantees the issuance of a patent to the applicant. The inventor will be capable of enjoying an exclusive intellectual property right to the invention for a period of 20 years.

After patent filing application on the invention, the examiner will validate its uniqueness.

When Should be Patent Filing done?

The current U.S. law (as per the 2011 America Invents Act) grants patents to the first person who files for patent protection. This is a change from how United States law used operate. An award was only granted to the first inventor.

The United States is now a “first to file” country. It is crucial to file patent protection immediately to ensure that others do not file on the same invention.

Anyone who didn’t invent something to learn about your invention, should not race to file your patent before you since it is illegal. It is only an “inventor” that can fill patent protection. Anyone who steals your idea is not an inventor. You might consider holding discussions with potential investment partners or companies. Hence, it is vital for you to have your patent application ready.