All of our inventions came out of a specific need to help improve daily life. Everyday people are struck with ideas on items that may make doing a task easier or that may improve the way an invention works. While some may not act on their ideas, for the ones that do, there are many questions on how to get started.
An invention needs to be a tangible item. One of the best ways to describe what can be patented is to explain what a patent isn’t for. For example, songs, poetry and recipes are not tangible items and fall under the copyright protections. A tangible item is something that is described in the dictionary as something easily seen, recognized or felt. Does the invention work to make a task easier? What is its purpose?
Take a look online. Use search engines such as Google and Bing. The United States Patent and Trademark Office is a huge resource for new inventors (uspto.gov) and maintains a database of all patents granted. If you find your invention already exists, don’t worry. Your invention may be slightly changed, rendering it a new invention worthy of its own patent. We will delve further into that below.
There are a few options available to new inventors. Obtaining the services of a patent lawyer is one route to take. A patent lawyer has a science degree and has passed the patent bar exam. The patent lawyer is knowledgeable in the patenting process. Another option is to use a good patent agent. A patent agent is required to also have passed the patent bar exam and may also work closely with others in the industry to help an inventor get his invention in front of the right people, such as manufacturers.
Two types of patents available are:
A provisional patent is a one year patent and is somewhat of a precursor to the Utility patent. A provisional patent is less expensive than the Utility patent and offers a good means to new inventors to test the waters before committing to the more expensive Utility patent. The beauty of a Provisional patent is that even if an invention is already patented, the manufacturer has the ability to change the invention slightly which warrants its own patent. Inventions granted a Provisional patent receive a “patent pending” status.
A Utility patent is a 20 year, set in stone patent, which means that once the patent is granted, no part of the invention may be changed. These patents are more expensive and often times have maintenance fees associated with them.
Most new inventors choose to apply for a Provisional patent. While using a patent lawyer to get started with the process, bear in mind that the patent lawyer will only be able to help you apply for the patent. A good patent agent will not only instruct an inventor on how to apply for a patent, but will also oversee each step of the process. Both graphics and technical drawings need to be submitted as part of the patent application sent to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). An inventor may need to hire a separate contractor for this. A patent agent works with a number of contractors already, including graphics artists and a patent attorney, to provide the inventor with every means necessary for success.
One of the many benefits of using a patent agent is that they are there for the long haul. Once a Provisional patent is granted, inventors have one year from the filing date to get a manufacturer to pick up their invention. A patent agent has many resources they are willing to share to help make an inventor successful.
With a little research an inventor will understand clearly how to patent an invention and will have the knowledge necessary in deciding which route to take for their patenting journey.
Contact Lonestar Patent Services to get a FREE Inventor Information Kit. We offer a free initial consultation along with a free professional patent search. Contact us today!