5 Steps To Filing A Patent To Protect Your Invention

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Ball of clay, pen and paper with ideas: How to Patent An IdeaYou’ve come up with an amazing invention and now you need to make sure someone doesn’t steal your idea. What do you do? You file a patent. But how do you patent an idea? Here is an overview of the steps in the patent process, so your invention stays safely in your hands.

How To Patent An Idea

Want to know how to patent an invention? You don’t need a lawyer to patent an invention, you can do it on your own and save thousands of dollars. There are patent examiners at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to help you apply for a patent on your own.

Do you know how to patent a product? Be sure your invention qualifies for a patent and make sure you’re able to describe every part of your invention. Here are the steps you’ll want to take, but be sure to talk to the USPTO and make sure you’re covering all your bases. 

1) Record Every Part of Your Invention

Use a notebook to document every step of the invention process. Describe in detail and draw diagrams of every tweak you make to the invention. Don’t forget to include how you came up with the idea for your invention. If possible, make a prototype of your invention and again, document all your work in the notebook. Be sure to date each entry and sign them along with two other witnesses.

2) Make Sure Your Invention Qualifies For A Patent

Just because you have an idea doesn’t mean you can get a patent. You need to show how the invention works and that it is new and never been done before. There can be no other invention like it, therefore it cannot be for sale by someone else.

3) Is It Worth the Money?

Even without using an attorney, applying for a patent costs about $1,500 in fees from the USPTO. That’s not cheap. So before you decide to file for a patent, take the time to research the market and make sure there’s room for you to succeed.

4) The Invention Must Be New

Research your field thoroughly to make sure there are no other developments of an invention like yours. That means searching U.S. and perhaps foreign patents as well as scientific and technical journals.

5) File Your Application With The USPTO

There are two options for filing: a regular patent application (RPA) or a provisional patent application (PPA).

Regular Patent Application

The USPTO examines your RPA to see if your invention is worthy of a patent. This is where you will include your notebook with all of the details and specifications of your invention as well as any drawings or other important information. Make sure you are thorough. Do not leave anything out.

How Much Do Patents Cost?

Filing an RPA can cost anywhere from $1,000 to more than $16,000 depending on whether or not you are using an attorney. If you choose to file the RPA on your own, you’re looking at about $1,000-$3,000. But remember, this can vary depending on the complexity of your invention.

Online legal services like Rocket Lawyer can make the process a lot less expensive. See how Rocket Lawyer fared in our comparison of the best online legal services.

Click Here to Start Provisional Patent Application with Rocket Lawyer

Provisional Patent Application

This isn’t an actual application for the patent itself. This gives your patent a pending status for the invention and documents only a small amount of the work and costs less than an RPA. Filing a PPA is something you do prior to filing an RPA to protect your invention while preparing to file your RPA.

What’s Required For A PPA?

  • $65 for micro-entities, $130 for small entities or $260 for large companies
  • Detailed description of the invention explaining how to make and use it as well as a drawing
  • Must file an RPA within a year after filing the PPA (if you don’t you cannot claim the PPA filing date)

Recap Of Filing A Patent

The USPTO has put together this short video of the process for filing a patent application.

Need Help Filing Your Patent?

All the work required to get a patent can seem overwhelming, but don’t feel defeated. It could make the difference for your business in the end. Get invention help by contacting the USPTO or use an online legal service for expert assistance.

Want to focus on your business and not have the legalese take up your valuable time? You can hire a company to take care of everything for you, check out our article comparing the top invention companies.

Have you ever filed for a patent? What was your experience?

About The Author:

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts from Simpson College with a major in multimedia journalism and a minor in marketing. She has been writing about business solutions since 2014, covering subjects such as tax software, email marketing, office equipment and more. Her work has appeared in many notable brands, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Reader's Digest, Forbes, People, Woman's World, and Huffington Post.

In 2015, she started her own business and continues to learn how to run it more efficiently thanks to her work on We Rock Your Web. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing and personally testing products and services. With every piece she writes, her goal is to help our readers find the best fit for their unique needs.

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I did not know that there are patent examiners at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to help you apply for a patent on your own. My friend spends much of his spare time in his garage doing research and building things up that come to his mind. Personally, I think he has so many great gadgets that I’ve never seen before that he should get them patented.

It’s good to learn more about getting a patent. I like how you said that it’s important to do research to know if your invention really needs a patent. I’ve been mulling over an idea for years, and I’m pretty sure it’d qualify! Doing some extra research is smart, though.

I’ve been searching everywhere trying to find a good resource for the steps it takes to file a patent and this does a good job of explaining it – the government is not very easy to navigate and it can be overwhelming to find the answers making it a frustrating process but I will reference these as a guide. Who knew it was so expensive to file a patent, up to $16,000? Wow!