How Do I Patent My Invention?

Put simply, a patent is obtained by filing a patent application with the USPTO.  The patent application must include a description of the invention with very specific details, as well as drawings or diagrams.  The inventor must also file an oath on the application, swearing that they believe they are the first to have invented their product.

An inventor may apply for one of two types of patent applications.  The first is a non-provisional application which starts the examination process and may eventually lead to a patent.  The other option is a provisional application, which establishes a filing date, but does not begin the examination process.  You can also contact the USPTO to send you materials providing a broad overview of the patent application process, which include the general requirements of the application and a listing of depository libraries.

The current patent application waiting period is roughly 25 months.  Once submitting your application, you will be informed of the application number and the official filing date within 8 weeks if it was filed in paper.  If the form is filed electronically, the application number is available within minutes.

However, filing a patent can be very expensive.  For a relatively simple idea, it’ll cost roughly $4,000-$6,000, while a highly complex idea may end up costing over $15,000.  Only proceed with applying for a patent if you are very serious, and have researched your idea or invention.

It may go without saying, but filing a patent by yourself is not easy.  If you are more concerned with patenting your idea, rather than learning about the process, you may want to look into hiring a patent lawyer.  Doing so will cost you a couple thousand dollars more, but it will save you time and energy.  But, if you would like to file your patent by yourself, you may find it helpful to read a book such as “Patent It Yourself” by David Pressman (as seen in our books section).  The more literature you read about the process, the more prepared you will be.