You have a great idea for a new product or service but what’s the next step?

Do you go ahead and hire a lawyer to apply for a patent? In most cases, the most likely answer is ‘no’.

You can rest assured that you can do this yourself and save thousands of dollars on attorneys’ fees.
If you are based in the U.S., you would need to file an application with the U.S. Parent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which will ultimately determine whether your patent application meets the necessary requirements.



Is your invention or service patentable?

Before you make the necessary steps to file for a patent, you first need to determine whether your invention or service is patentable:

  • An invention or service cannot be patented, if the invention or service is already known or is used by other persons or companies in this country. Additionally, it cannot be patented if it is already used in a foreign country or is currently in public use in a country for more than a year prior to the application for patent in the U.S.
  • That the subject must be useful. This means that the subject matter must have a useful purpose that includes operativeness.
Conducting a thorough search

Before you file for a patent, you need to carry out a search of all previous public disclosures, including all previously patented inventions in the U.S. to determine whether your invention or newly created service has been previously disclosed making it not patentable. Although carrying out a thorough search before filing an application for a patent is not required, it would be best to do so to avoid unnecessary time being wasted and extra expenses.

To ensure that your invention and service is new, you need to carry out research into all the earlier developments in your field.

This includes searching U.S. as well as foreign patents. To be on the safe side, you would also need to look into other publications including technical and scientific journals, to find if there are any related inventions to your own.
We understand that patent searching can be incredibly time consuming but it can be mastered with time and practice.
It would also be best recommended that you hire the services of a registered attorney or agent who will be able to help you with the research for any existing patents. Once the application for the patent has been filed, the USPTO will run a search as part of the official examination process.

Since running a thorough patent research can be difficult and complicated for a beginner in the trade, it would be best to hire the services of a registered attorney or agent.
Your other options would be to get in the touch with your nearest Patent and Trademark Depository Library who will be able to assist you further. Additionally, you can also ask search experts to help you in creating and setting up the basis of a search strategy.

How to file for a U.S. Patent

In order to get a U.S. Patent, you must first file an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Since the patent application is a rather difficult and complicated document, it would be best to ask for assistance from a trained expert.

There are two types of patent applications available:

  • Non-provisional patent application: This application entails 1) a written document that features a specification including description as well as an oath; 2) A design in the case where a drawing is essential to help in the patent process; 3) Filing, search and examination fees. You should be able to determine that small entity status is apt before making an assertion of entitlement to small entity status and paying the small entity fees. Fees tend to change every year in October.
  • Provisional application: This parent application requires that you establish an early effective filing date and permits the term ‘Patent Pending’ in connection to your invention or services. These type of applications must not be filed with design inventions. The filing date for this application must be the same as the one mentioned in the written description of the invention as well as the drawings as submitted to the USPTO. In order for you to complete this form, you must also include a filing fee and a cover sheet detailing that the application is a provisional application for a patent. You would then have up to a year (12 months) to file a non-provisional application for a patent as has already been previously mentioned.