How to Patent an Invention

Thứ sáu - 26/04/2024 23:11
You've created an invention that will revolutionize the way the world works, but how do you make your idea a reality? The United States Patent and Trademark Office issues patents for original, useful inventions that change the way people...
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You've created an invention that will revolutionize the way the world works, but how do you make your idea a reality? The United States Patent and Trademark Office issues patents for original, useful inventions that change the way people do things. Applying for a patent is a tedious and expensive process, but if you know what to look for, you'll be able to apply for a patent without hiring a professional. Follow the guide below to find out how to refine your invention and apply for a patent.

Part 1
Part 1 of 4:

Defining Your Idea and Understanding Patents

  1. 1
    Understand what a patent is. A patent rewards an inventor with certain exclusive legal rights, for a limited time, in exchange for a full disclosure of the invention, which becomes public information. A patent is represented by a document issued by a federal government upon a proper application, after examination, regarding a qualifying invention. It includes one or more "claims" to a single invention.[1]
    • As a rule, patents are issued only to the "first to file" a disclosure of a patentable invention in a patent application. Also, nobody is allowed to claim an invention they did not invent.
    • The owner of the patent is generally authorized to prevent others from making, using, selling or importing the invention, within the jurisdiction, after the patent is issued and until the patent lapses or expires. Those unlawful acts are known as "patent infringement".
    • Patent claims are also considered to include minor changes that are "equivalent" to any of the patented claims. However, a new means to obtain an equivalent result might still be patentable by you or others.
    • Relatively few patents turn out to be valuable, but yours could certainly be the exception. You must decide whether to pursue the protection of a patent, or perhaps obtain more value if you keep your invention a "trade secret".
    • To enforce your patent you would need to take legal action against an infringer, assuming the infringement occurs in a country where your patent is issued and remains valid and enforceable.
    • In some cases a patent claim can be ruled as "void" because it was issued improperly, making it unenforceable.
    • There are also exceptions for certain limited uses of patented inventions by people who do not own the patent, even without a license from the patent owners.
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Part 2
Part 2 of 4:

Conducting a Patent Search

  1. 1
    Determine whether your invention is "new" and "non-obvious" by searching the literature in your field as well as patents in the USA and the rest of the world. If your invention has already been disclosed by others, or your invention is an obvious change to or combination of other inventions, it is probably not patentable.[7]
    • It may be possible that your invention is a patentable improvement over all previously known inventions, even if you cannot quickly determine that.
    • If your invention is an "improvement" to an invention currently under protection of patents by others, your patent search may help you understand whether you will need licenses from others before you can start making and selling your own version in their countries.
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Part 3
Part 3 of 4:

Filing a Patent Application

  1. Step 1 Decide whether you wish to file a provisional or a non-provisional patent application.
    The provisional application is associated with relatively inexpensive filing fees but serves merely to "hold your place in line" at the patent office for up to one year. If you do not file a non-provisional application within that year, referencing your provisional application, all your rights to your provisional application will be abandoned.[11]
    • Provisional applications do require a cover sheet and a filing fee. After a provisional application is filed, the inventor is allowed up to 12 months to file a non-provisional application that references one or more provisional applications. If the non-provisional application is approved, the invention is entitled to the inventor ship priority of the filing date of the provisional applications that disclose the claimed invention.
    • Provisional applications do not require claims or an oath or declaration. They simply allow the title "patent pending" to be associated with your invention. Provisional applications cannot be filed for design patent applications, however.
    • The value of a provisional application is the ability to extend your ownership of the invention you disclose in the application prior to filing for an actual patent. A complete disclosure is required in your provisional application, if you want to later prove what you knew at the time.
    • Nothing prevents you from filing additional provisional applications during the year, if you discover valuable improvements along the way. You can only claim the "benefit" in a non-provisional for those provisional applications that have not yet expired at the time of filing the non-provisional applications that reference them.
    • You may find informal discussions about getting a "provisional patent", but that is a misnomer. A provisional application for a patent is not examined for patentability and does not become a patent with any enforceable rights. It is a "provisional application", not a "provisional patent".
  2. Step 3 Alternately, prepare your patent application yourself.
    The patent application process is rather extensive and expensive. You can file your application by mail or online to the Director of the USPTO. As of November 15, 2011, you can save almost $300 by applying online. Applications require six parts:[12]
    • Application transmittal form.
    • Fee transmittal form. Issue and maintenance fees will also be applied if your patent application is approved.
    • Application data sheet.
    • Specification. A written document that outlines the invention description and claims. This document must claim the subject matter which the applicant regards as the invention. You may make several claims in this document as long as they are different from or build upon a previous claim. Include the names of all inventors associated with the specific invention and their addresses and the official name of the invention. The specification should include the following sections in the following order:
      • Title of the invention provided on a cover sheet.
      • List of cross references to related patented inventions (if applicable).
      • Disclosure of federally sponsored research and development (if applicable).
      • Names of other inventors or members of a joint research agreement.
      • Reference to a ”Sequence Listing,” a table, or a computer program listing appendix submitted on an external CD.
      • Background of the invention, including the origin of the idea.
      • Short abstract of the invention.
      • Short description of any drawings or diagrams provided.
      • Detailed description of the invention.
      • One or more claims to the specific invention.
      • Abstract of the disclosure.
      • Sequence listing (if applicable).
    • Drawings, showing the elements of the invention that you are claiming.
    • Executed oath or declaration. This is an oath or declaration that the product was your original invention. An oath must be certified before a notary public or other officer authorized to administer oaths. A statutory "declaration" may be used in lieu of an oath and need not be certified by a third party. It relies upon the fact that making a false declaration would be a felony.
    • Note that, as a rule, the specification and drawings cannot be amended to add new matter during the prosecution of the application. Claims may be amended, but only within the scope of what was disclosed in the original application and any cited provisional applications. It is not unusual for an examiner to request amendment of a title or abstract for clarity.
  3. Step 5 Submit the required documents in a single packet at the same time.
    You will receive an application number and a filing date after you submit your materials. The filing date will be the date that the USPTO receives your application, not necessarily the day that you file the application.[14]
    • An application mailed via USPS Priority Mail® may be given the "filing date' of the date when it was deposited in the mail and an application filed electronically will be given the filing date when it was received electronically.
    • You will be notified of any "missing parts" and given a date by which to submit them.
    • If your application is related to other non-provisional applications you have already filed, whether in the USA or elsewhere, there are highly technical rules of which you need to be aware. They may be found in the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure, or "MPEP", on the USPTO website.[15]
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Part 4
Part 4 of 4:

Receiving and Maintaining Your Patent

  1. Step 1 Wait for the USPTO to evaluate your application.
    After an application is filed, the USPTO will conduct their own search of relevant prior art, including patents and millions of other documents, to check for duplicates and conflicting inventions.
    • Your application will normally be published 18 months after your filing date, making it available for anyone in the world to see. In particular, if your application contains any "trade secrets", they will become public knowledge at that time.
    • During examination, the examiner will typically ask for clarification of your invention or for a narrowing of the scope of protection sought. In addition, there is no guarantee that any application will eventually be granted as a patent. The examination process will vary in duration depending on the nature of your invention and schedule of the patent office.
    • It is unusual for a non-provisional patent application to result in a patent issuance without any interim rebuttal from the USPTO. You should expect it to be rejected, perhaps for numerous reasons, as part of the normal initial process. Do not consider this a setback.
    • You have a limited time in which to reply to each and every basis of objection or rejection, and your application will "go abandoned" if you miss the deadline, including any extensions that you are allowed to purchase.
    • During the "patent pending" phase of your application, you may try to sell or exploit your invention without fear of losing any rights to the invention.
    • If you desire patent protection in other countries, you have a limited time in which to file your patent applications in those countries and still claim invention priority of your US application.
    • Your US "patent pending" does not prevent anyone from making, using, selling or importing your disclosed invention in the USA or any other country. It is merely a warning. You cannot sue for infringement of a patent that is not yet issued.
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  • Beware of ads offering help securing a patent or inventing a product. These are often expensive scams. In any case, if it is not a law firm, they are not regulated as lawyers.
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  • Note that a provisional application is not published, but may eventually become "available" to others as part of your non-provisional application file. Any trade secrets disclosed in your provisional application, as referenced in a non-provisional application, will become "public knowledge".
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