Patents can offer all kinds of protections for your discoveries, but that only comes into play if your petition is successful. It can be a tall order to get your pitch through untouched, and preparation for the process can go a long way.
Just over half of all patent applications in the U.S. make it through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) without any additional work. This means if you want to avoid any delays or rejections, you’ll want to understand how it all works well before you begin.
You’ll want to do your homework on the steps before you take the leap:
- Determine if your invention patentable: You can’t patent just any concept. You’ll want to make sure you know that your creation makes the grade, doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s work and that the details of your patent aren’t already publicly known.
- What kind of patent do you need: Utility patents, design patents and plant patents all have their purposes. There are certainly times where the design and plant designations come into play, but most applications fall under utility patents.
- Prepare and submit your application: Once you have all the information you need, you’ll have to put it to use. The proper filing of your paperwork is essential, as is knowing how much you’ll be paying in fees. This is also the time to figure out if the USPTO considers you a small or micro entity, if you want to pay for an expedited process and how you’re going to file.
If your patent doesn’t make it through cleanly, then you’ll likely have the chance to work with your examiner. They’ll let you know where you came up short, and what actions you need to take within a given time frame. If you can’t come to terms with the examiner, then you’ll probably have to face the Patent Trial and Appeal Board for further action, which can be even more time-consuming and costly.
It’s not easy, but your best bet is usually to get it right the first time. And in the event you do have to work with an examiner, it can be hard to know exactly what they’re looking for to clear your idea. Make sure you have a solid understanding of what the USPTO expects, and you could be that much closer to getting your patent through.