How to patent an idea
When it comes to protecting inventions, patents are crucial. In this blog post, we examine what patents protect and how they differ from other forms of intellectual property. We will also shed some light on the steps needed to apply for a patent, from deciding whether a patent is needed to maintaining and enforcing a granted patent.
What Do Patents Protect?
A patent is a legal instrument that guarantees innovators temporary exclusive rights to their discoveries. It protects novel and beneficial processes, machines, matter compositions, or any innovative changes. Patents protect the essential characteristics of an innovation, product or process, ensuring that others cannot use, manufacture, sell, or import the patented invention without the consent of the patent holder. Patents are considered a type of intellectual property (IP) protection.
IP is a generic term that includes various sorts of intangible assets that are the result of creativity and are protected by law. These assets include inventions, designs, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. A patent is one category within the broader field of intellectual property.
Patent vs Copyright: What’s the Difference?
While both are a type of Intellectual Property, patents protect inventions, whereas copyrights protect original works of authorship, such as literary, artistic, musical, or dramatic works. Patents are concerned with technical issues and exclusive rights to inventions, whereas copyrights are concerned with the expression of creative works.
How to Get a Patent in 10 Simple Steps
A patent is obtained through a series of steps. These include:
1. Assess Whether Patent Protection Is Right for You
Consider your invention’s commercial potential and weigh the benefits against the costs of getting and maintaining a patent. If you don’t file a patent application (or someone else files before you), then there is very little you can do to prevent other people from using your idea.
2. Work Out If Your Invention Is Patentable
For an invention or idea to be eligible for a patent, the claimed invention must, in the opinion of a patent examiner, satisfy three criteria:
- It must be novel. The invention is unique and has not been made available to the public at the time of filing. If technical features can be found within published material worldwide prior to the filing date, then the innovation is not considered new and so, may be rejected.
- It must involve an inventive step. The test for the inventive step addresses if the technical features claimed are obvious to a skilled person when considering the problem to be solved.
- It must have an industrial application. The test for industrial application is more straightforward, the invention must be useful and solve some technical problem without consideration of any economic factors.
If all three are met then a patent will be granted.
3. Use Patent Search Software to Review Existing Patents & Inventions
Use patent search tools, like Minesoft Origin, to conduct a thorough analysis of already-issued patents and inventions. Minesoft Origin provides sophisticated AI patent search features that make it easy even for those who aren’t experienced in patent searching to quickly unearth prior art. Our user-friendly technology also translates legal jargon into a simpler language, making it easier to understand. In just a few clicks, you can make sure that your idea is original and unique.
4. Identify the Type of Patent You Need
It’s important to understand the various types of patents available, such as utility, design, and plant patents, and choose the one that best fits your idea.
- Utility patents protect an invention that is a “useful process, machine, article of manufacturing, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof”.
- Design patents are granted for inventions that are a “new, original, ornamental design for an article of manufacture.”
- Plant patents are granted for any new variety of plant life that “asexually reproduces”
5. Prepare Your Application
To create a comprehensive patent application, gather all relevant information and paperwork, including a full description and any supporting materials. This usually includes a written description of your idea, alongside drawings to illustrate and indication of any prior art similar. It is also important to have a list of claims that define the novel technical features.
To apply for a patent in the United Kingdom, you must go through the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO). Similarly, a patent application in the United States must be lodged through the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the government’s intellectual property authority responsible for patent and trademark applications. You can apply for a patent in the United States by using EFS-Web, the USPTO’s electronic filing system.
6. File Your Application
Follow the steps for filing your patent application with the appropriate patent office and pay the applicable fees. Once the submission has been received, they will issue a receipt which confirms the filing date and provides a patent application number. Use online solutions such as Minesoft Legal StatusTracker (link) to help you track changes in your application by receiving automatic patent alerts directly to your inbox.
7. Work Closely with Your Patent Examiner
Collaborate with the assigned patent examiner, reply to any objections or rejections, and make any necessary changes to improve the application. Using software like Legal Status Tracker allows you to monitor changes directly via your email and eliminates the need for time-consuming manual legal status checks, shortening the time it takes to grant your application.
8. Quickly Address Any Patent Office Actions
Address any requests or actions from the patent office as soon as possible in order to speed up the application process and fix any potential difficulties.
9. Finalise the Process
Before finalising the process, thoroughly review your patent application to ensure all details are right. This will save you time with the examiner and expedite your application.
10. Maintain and Enforce Your Granted Patent
Once your patent has been granted, use accessible tools such as Minesoft CiteTracker to understand who has cited your patents, helping you to successfully maintain and enforce your intellectual rights.
How Much Does It Cost to Patent an idea?
The cost of patenting an idea varies significantly based on factors such as the complexity of the innovation, jurisdiction, attorney fees, and maintenance charges. Registration fees in the United States might reach $900, without including examination expenses and patent lawyers’ fees. In the United Kingdom, it can cost up to £115, not including the cost of prior art searches, examinations, and patent attorney fees.
How Long Does a Patent Last?
A utility patent normally provides protection for 20 years from the date of filing, while a design patent typically provides protection for 15 years. It is important to note, however, that patent regulations and durations differ by jurisdiction. Another important factor worth noting is that once a patent has been granted, it must be maintained by paying an annual renewal fee to the Intellectual Property Office(s) that you have applied through.
Use Minesoft for Global Patent Search and Analysis
Minesoft provides online software solutions for worldwide patent searches and analysis. Our technology can help to speed up the patent research process and provide useful insights. Whether you are an R&D professional or a legal advisor, Minesoft has the right solution for you and your team to make informed decisions in fast-changing markets.
Patents provide exclusive rights and protection to innovators for their innovations. Understanding the patent process and performing the necessary steps can assist inventors in protecting their intellectual property. Using tools like Minesoft’s global suite of patent solutions can help you speed the process and improve your patent journey, whether you’re doing patent searches, filing an application, creating an IP strategy, or managing a granted patent.
How Do I Know If My Idea Is Patentable?
Assess the uniqueness, non-obviousness, and usefulness of your concept to see if it is patentable. Conduct a thorough patent search using Minesoft Origin to guarantee that no similar inventions exist.
Can Someone Steal My Idea If I Have a Patent Pending?
While having a pending patent provides some protection, it is still important to preserve confidentiality and take the appropriate precautions to prevent others from stealing your concept. This can include using non-disclosure agreements, limiting access to sensitive information, and monitoring the market for any potential infringement.
What Percentage of Patents Get Rejected?
The percentage of patent rejections varies according to several factors, including the quality of the patent application, the breadth of the innovation, and the patent office. It is crucial that applicants use a patent search and analysis tool to understand what innovations have already been patented. Working closely with a patent specialist is recommended to increase the prospects of successful patent prosecution.