You have an idea for a new product, how do you patent it?
In this age of information, it’s more important than ever to protect our ideas. That’s why we have patents. Patents allow individuals to enter their idea or product into the U.S. marketplace with some reassurance that another entrepreneurial citizen won’t claim it as his or her own. Patents offer a degree of protection. Here is an outline detailing how to patent a new product:
Step One: There are a lot of products out there these days. It seems like there is something for nearly everything, which is why it’s vital you do your research and ensure your product idea doesn’t already have a patent.
You can’t get a patent if your invention has already been publicly disclosed, so rather than waste your time, you should start by conducting a search of all previous public disclosures (AKA prior art) in the U.S. You should also conduct a search of foreign patents and printed publications in order to be thorough and avoid any potential problems down the road.
Conducting a thorough patent search can be time-consuming and difficult. You can contact the nearest Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) to get expert help in developing your search strategy. As part of the official examination process, the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) will conduct a search, but this occurs only after your application is filed. Save yourself some time and get a head start.
Step Two: Determine if your invention is patentable. Review the list of what can and cannot be patented to ensure new product or invention isn’t the latter. According to U.S. patent law, any person who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent,” though there are stipulations and requirements to the statue. You can find out more on the topic here.
Step Three: Determine what kind of patent you need. There are three kinds of patents: utility, design, and plant. Since you’re wondering how to patent a new product, you’ll probably need a utility patent or a design patent.
According to USPTO, “Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matters, or any new useful improvement thereof.” On the other hand, a design patent “may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.”
Step Four: Gather your materials. You’ll need the patent application, which you can find online on the USPTO website, as well as the supplication fee. The fees vary depending on what kind of patent you need. You may want to look into securing a patent lawyer if you aren’t confident in your knowledge of the field. Decide if you need international protection. If so, you’ll need to make additional provisions and do some research into an international patent.
Step Five: Prepare and submit your application to patent a new product! The approval process can take anywhere from two to five years, so be patient. And if you have an idea for a new product, you should get started on your application today now that you know how to patent a new product.