Do I Need A Patent For My Invention - First, Determine If You Really Need A Patent.

Patents, Prototypes, Manufacturing, and Marketing New Inventions

Protect your idea with a patent, but only if you need one, because often a patent is not necessary.






Do I Need A Patent For My Invention?

Do you need to patent your invention ideas?

Not all inventions need to be patented, and inventors should know how they will make a profit on their invention before they take on the nearly 2 years or more and high costs of pursuing a patent for their invention.

For example, it's impossible to pick up a coffee maker that doesn't list patent numbers, but that doesn't seem to prevent anyone else from making coffee makers.

I would not recommend obtaining a patent unless it's a very strong patent that will prevent others from competing with your product.

Lego had such a patent.  As soon as Lego's patent expired, a whole bunch of copycat toys came out.  However, by then Lego had established itself so well as a brand name, and continues to innovate, and so the patent is no longer needed.

Most patents however, are not as strong as the Lego patent was, and so do not really eliminate all competition. But for those strong patents how to patent an idea is important.

The Patent is the tool that you use to prevent others from stealing your invention.

In order to obtain a patent the invention must be:

(1) novel - new, never having existed anywhere. 

(2) useful - it must "work" or accomplish something. 

(3) non-obvious.

(4) reduced to practice - the "idea" can't be patented but product can be. 

Non-obvious means to an expert in the related field.  For instance, if the device is a plumbing product, then it would have to be not obvious to a plumber.

The real meat of a patent are the claims. The claims define the limitations of your invention - what you can prevent someone else from making. 

You can find the claims at the back by looking for "What is Claimed:" followed by a series of numbered paragraphs.

Learn to read them, and learn to understand the language if you want strong protection.

For instance, if you write that Part A is "glued" to Part B, a manufacturer might be able to get around your patent by using "screwed" rather than "glued". Therefore, the word "fastened" would be much more difficult to design around since it "means" bolt, screw, glue, or nail etc. Selecting every word in an application carefully is a must for strong patent protection. 

There are a lot of small details involved with how to get a patent, and that is why I always use a patent attorney. A good patent attorney is how to get a patent...most of the time anyway.

Many words have specific narrowly defined legal meanings - so read as many as you can get your hands on, and become comfortable with the language.

Many skilled inventors do write and file their own applications - but generally not until after they really learn the process with their earlier inventions.

Get a good patent attorney

I highly recommend hiring a professional patent attorney and professional patent search services. Possibly the best advice I can give about how to patent an invention idea.

Begin your search for attorneys and agents that are registered to practice before the USPTO. 

Discuss fees. Legal services are expensive - so keep your focus on smaller firms. The smaller firms will work more closely with you - and usually at a lower cost. 

Agree on the estimated costs before hiring anyone. 


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