How to Patent an Idea: 4 Key Steps to Patenting

How To Patent An Idea: 4 Key Steps To Patenting

If you have an innovative idea, you might be interested in protecting it by obtaining a patent. A patent is a legal document that helps you gain the exclusive right to use, make and sell your invention for a certain period. 

Obtaining a patent is often a complex process, but it can provide significant benefits, allowing you to protect and profit from your idea. If you want a patent for your invention, follow these steps to learn how to patent an idea successfully. 

#1 Do Your Research 

The first thing you must consider is if your idea is patentable. 

One of the most common issues people run into when trying to get a patent is needing to research if someone has already patented an idea similar to yours or if the invention can be patented in your country. 

Using an IP Law firm to help you can be a great step in the right direction, as they work to ensure that your patent idea is original, speeding up the application process. 

Without the help of a professional, if you’re in the US, you can search the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) website to check if any patents have been filed that may clash with your claim. 

In the UK, you can search for patents in a similar database called Espacenet. These databases are vast and confusing, so getting a professional team to help is highly recommended.

#2 Check if Your Idea is Patentable 

Just because you can’t find a patent similar to yours doesn’t always mean that your patent is available. 

You must check that your idea can be patented by consulting your country’s patent guidelines. For example, in the US, your idea must have the following:

  • Novelty: Your invention must be new and private before the patent application.
  • Non-obviousness: Your invention must be something other than an obvious development from existing knowledge or technology.
  • Utility: Your invention must have a useful function or application.
  • Patentable subject matter: The invention must be something that can be patented. For example, abstract ideas or laws of nature are not eligible for patent protection.

In the UK, the government asks that your idea is:

  • New: it must have been kept private. It is very important that you have not published anything about your product before applying for the patent. 
  • Inventive: It cannot be an obvious change to something already existing; for example, you couldn’t just paint a chair pink and call it a new invention. It has to be new and innovative. 
  • Useful: something that can be made and used, a technical process, or a method. 

Ensuring your invention falls within these categories is important to move on with your application. It would be best to remember that you can’t patent abstract things such as ‘ways of thinking’ as there is no way to limit who can think in a certain way. 

#3 File Your Patent 

If you have determined that your patent is actionable, you can begin filing your patent with your respective government body. In the US, you will do this via an online application with USPTO; in the UK, you will do this via the UK Gov website. 

Both applications require a fee and can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to process, depending on the size of your claim and processing demands. Applying for a patent can be demanding, as the government may ask for further proof of the originality of your invention at any time – so having intellectual property lawyers on your team can prevent any issues from setting you back.

#4 Consider Where You Plan to Sell Your Invention 

To sell your invention worldwide, you must apply for multiple patents. A patent generally only covers the country it’s filed in – for example, a patent granted by the UK intellectual property office can only protect your invention in the UK. 

While there is no such thing as a “worldwide patent”, a few patents may allow you to patent an invention across more than one county. For example, the European Patent Convention (EPC) or Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) can help you achieve this in Europe. The EPC, in particular, allows you to apply for a patent in up to 38 European countries with a single application. 

The PCT is closest to an international patent, covering most of the ‘industrialised world’. One application is filed, broken down, and split into each country. 

These applications can be incredibly complicated and should only be pursued with enough funds to cover them or with the help of professional intellectual property lawyers. 

Ready to File a Patent?

If you’re ready to patent your idea – we wish you the best of luck! 

Patenting can be a long process, but it is a worthwhile investment if you wish to protect your intellectual property rights to your invention. We hope this article has given you the information you need on how to patent an idea and the start you need to get going. 

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