Basics of Getting a Patent

Learning how to get a patent is important if you want to avoid making costly mistakes many inventors make.  For example, many inventors skip a U.S. patentability search which could encourage you to not spend thousands of dollars on a patent application and if you proceed with a patent application will assist your patent attorney in crafting your claims to help get you a patent.  Getting a patent is not easy or cheap, but if you follow the steps below you should be ahead of most inventors when getting a patent.

How to Get a Patent

Step 1:  U.S. Patentability Search

The first step to getting a patent for your invention is typically to perform a U.S. patent search.  A U.S. patent search will help you determine if you should spend the money getting a patent.  While a patent search is not required by the U.S. Patent Office, it is usually the first step before getting a patent – particularly for first time patentees.

Step 2:  Prepare a U.S. Patent Application

Assuming the patent search indicates that getting a patent for your idea is feasible, the next step is to prepare a patent application.  You have two main options in preparing your patent application: (1) prepare the patent application yourself or (2) hire a qualified U.S. Registered Patent Attorney.

Getting a patent on an idea yourself can be very difficult even for the most experienced inventors.  Most reputable people in the invention industry will recommend that you hire a patent attorney as the best method on how to get a patent for your invention.  A patent attorney will have years of experience in preparing and prosecuting patent applications with the U.S. Patent Office which should give your invention the best chance of receiving a U.S. patent.

During the preparation of your patent application, your patent attorney will send you a draft of the patent application to review prior to filing with the U.S. Patent Office.  If you have any questions or suggestions for your patent attorney, make sure to contact them immediately after receiving the first draft of the patent application – no matter how simple you may believe your question is!

Step 3:  File the U.S. Patent Application

After you approve the patent application for your idea, the next step is for your patent attorney to file the patent application with the U.S. Patent Office which will give you “patent pending” status.  A patent application needs to be filed with the USPTO before you will have any chance of getting a patent.

Step 4:  Patent Prosecution

After the patent application is received by the U.S. Patent Office, they will perform a separate patent search and send you an Office Action (basically a patentability opinion from the U.S. Patent Office) indicating the patentability of your invention.  Most first Office Actions result in the initial denial of your patent application so don’t be discouraged just because you receive an initial rejection. 

To get a patent, your patent attorney will then have to file a Response with the U.S. Patent Office arguing while your idea is patentable.  The Response may also include claim amendments to help improve the patentability of your idea. 

The U.S. Patent Office will hopefully respond with a Notice of Allowance which indicates that your idea can receive a patent.  However, the U.S. Patent Office may send a Final Office Action indicating that the Patent Examiner disagrees with the Response (you can file a second Response and/or file a Request for Continued Examination).

Step 5:  USPTO Issue Fee

Assuming you receive a Notice of Allowance , you then will be required to pay a government Issue Fee to get your patent.  After the Issue Fee is received by the U.S. Patent Office, your invention will typically receive a granted patent within 1-3 months.