What You Need to Know About Filing a Patent

Inventing is more than just coming up with a good idea or improving on an old one. You might have a brilliant idea, but it is worth nothing if someone else applies for a patent first. There are some things you need to know before filing for one.

Make Sure You Have What You Need

You have to prepare before filing a patent. You need to have documentation of your work, including your notes, plans, prototype parts you still need, and any working models you have. Although you do not have to have a working model, you should at least be at the planning stage.

Do Some Research

You need to research what you are licensing to ensure that no one else has a trademark, license, or patent pending. You can start by doing a patent search


Decide What Type of Application You Need

Each of the three types of applications is for a different thing. The first is a plant application covers new species of asexual plants. The second is a design application and includes new ornamental designs and characteristics.

The third and most common application is a utility application. This covers legal protection for processes, machines, manufactured articles, and new compositions of things.

Global or US Only Patent

A global patent covers you internationally while a US patent only covers you in the US. The process for a global license is much different than one just for a single country. For a global one, you might want to consider obtaining a lawyer specializing in the worldwide application process.

Decide on Provisional or Nonprovisional 

When filing a utility application, you will have to decide on a provisional or a nonprovisional one. A provisional will allow you to manufacture a product with the “patent pending” mark. Although this doesn’t provide much actual protection, it does discourage people. It also gives you a year to get a nonprovisional patent.

A nonprovisional patent gives you a firm date and fully protects you against someone stealing your idea. These are harder to apply for and require a lot more information. When you file for a nonprovisional, you may want to seek the help of a lawyer specializing in this type of application.

Filing is one of the only ways you can protect your idea from being stolen after you begin to manufacture and market your invention. Patents are traditionally costly but worth it. Fortunately, a few things like qualifying as a micro-entity can reduce application fees by 75%, which can help offset the cost.