Patent It Yourself

Patent Steps

Obtaining patent protection for your invention is complicated. With an understanding of the steps involved in pursuing a patent, inventors will have a better grasp of how convoluted it is. An intellectual property lawyer’s familiarity with this intricate procedure helps entrepreneurs to receive the suitably broad protection that their invention deserves.

Use this overview to familiarize yourself with the patent application system, then reach out to a qualified attorney for money- and time-saving guidance.

Understand Your Invention

The better you know your invention, the better your chances are of pursuing patent protection. It’s critical to identify the aspects that make your invention novel. Whether your invention has one novel aspect or is groundbreaking from top to bottom, you’ll want to know each of these aspects intimately so that they can be described and claimed in your patent application.

Scope is another crucial consideration. Examine whether or not there are other methods of building your invention. Brainstorm all of the possible methods of making your invention even if they’re not as effective as your preferred method.

Further, take some time to consider whether or not your invention could have a broader application. If the invention could be used for a purpose beyond the intended one, would it need to be modified?

Spending time on each of these aspects helps you to understand your invention, which means that you may be able to claim broader protection.

Research Your Invention

The USPTO won’t grant a patent unless some aspect of your invention is new and novel. Accordingly, it’s sensible to be aware of the technology that came before. This means conducting an electronic search through the records of the USPTO for any issued patents or published applications that may be similar. You also may want to use a search engine to find any white papers, brochures or presentations that may disclose similar technology.

This helps you decide whether or not your invention is novel enough to receive a patent. However, patent searching is difficult. Whether or not a reference will interfere with your ability to obtain patent protection may turn on an obscure factor. It’s always sensible to ask a patent attorney to conduct a patent search and provide their legal opinion with regard to whether or not it’s reasonable to pursue a patent.

Choose the Type of Protection

By now, you’ve spent time thinking about and researching your invention. If you believe more tinkering is warranted, then you may want to file a provisional patent application. Such an application affords you an earlier filing date, effectively putting on record with the USPTO that you were the inventor of this item on this date. Then, you have one year within which to file your real patent application.

Your provisional patent application will never be examined, and it won’t become a patent unless you follow it up with a non-provisional patent application. This is the filing that the USPTO will review in detail.

Draft Your Patent Application

This is one of the most complex parts of the process. Get it wrong, and you risk being unable to obtain any kind of patent protection or detrimentally limiting the scope of any protection that you do get.

If you do plan to file by yourself, then it’s critical that you review the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure at the USPTO website. It’s heavy on the legalese, but it does lay out all of the required parts of a patent application. Follow it with great care, and you may have some success.

However, patent lawyers spend years understanding how to draft a patent application and honing their skills. This experience enables them to obtain the broadest and most meaningful protection for your invention. Remember, the better written your application is, the more likely it is that it will be allowed.

Wait for a Response from the USPTO

Months or a year or two later, you may receive a response, called an Office action, from the USPTO. Examiners at the USPTO are lawyers who possess specialized technological knowledge. Accordingly, they may reject the claims of a patent application using legal terms and citations that are unfamiliar to most inventors.

It is nearly always advisable to ask a patent attorney to respond to an Office action as they can do so in a manner that is acceptable to the USPTO and also may be persuasive.

Pursuing patent protection is difficult. It helps to have a qualified legal professional at your side to take the mystery out of the process. If you do need help let us know!

Author: Jeff Williams

Jeff Williams is an experienced mechanical engineer and lawyer that consults closely with clients in a strait forward and clear manner.  He brings a particular set of strengths and unique perspectives to the firm.    
 Jeff received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Arizona State University in 2005.  He was an engineer for a number of years at a number of large corporations before pursuing his law degree.  He graduated from Texas A&M University School of Law (formerly Texas Wesleyan University School of Law) with a J.D. in 2010.  By combining his education and prior work experience into the field of intellectual property law, Jeff has developed key skills to fully assist clients.