11 Feb Patents 101: The Pre-Application Process
You just finished creating a new, life-changing product! Now what? It’s time to think about protecting your hard work with a patent.
A patent prevents others from using, copying, or selling your invention without your consent. These can be obtained from the U.S. government through an application and review process, but before you move forward there are a few necessary steps to take.
Determine If Your Product Is Eligible to Be Patented
Under U.S. patent law, any person who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent.” Expect that you will be asked to show how your product works and why it’s useful.
Conduct a Patent Search
In order to qualify for a patent, your product must be brand new. Therefore, it’s imperative you (or someone you hire) research the U.S. patent database to ensure there aren’t similar products. Remember, this search can be time consuming, and it’s very common to find inventions similar to yours. You must be able to differentiate your products from those already patented.
You need a fully functioning prototype to receive a patent, which, depending on what your product or services, it can get expensive. If you don’t have the necessary funds to build the prototype, you’ll have to find and present to investors. These individuals will also eventually help fund your entire project.
Build a Prototype
When creating your prototype, remember to highlight every single function and benefit. Be as specific as possible. Whether it’s a model, drawing or some other type of presentation, put everything you have into it. This is a major step in proving your product’s patent eligibility.
Once you’re ready to complete the patent application, fill one out through the United States Patent and Trademark Office via website or mail. Based on the type of application, you will also need to pay a filing fee.
The entire process can take a couple months or several years depending on your patent. If it’s rejected, you have the right to appeal and resubmit. Please feel free to reach out to us if you would like to further discuss the patent application process.