How Does The Patent Process Work?
You’ve created the next great software package or invention, and want to make sure your idea remains your own intellectual property. You’ve googled “how to get a patent” and likely come across dozens of long-winded explanations as to the patent process, and conflicting testimony as to whether or not you need an attorney to file your patent application. In this guide, we will explain the U.S patent application process – and give it a KISS! Keeping It Simple & Savvy for your patents.
The following post only applies to the U.S patent process—the process for applying for a patent is different in Europe and China (we will elaborate on those processes in a future blog post). Before applying for a patent, you’ll need to ensure that you’ve met the legal standards for the patent. For example, if you published information (including, but not limited to blog posts, written text, TedTalks) about your idea over one year ago, you’ll be unable to obtain a patent for the idea in the U.S. In addition, your idea must fall under a patentable category of ideas—this includes, but is not limited to: software, electronics, a chemical molecule, or an invention.
If your idea or invention meets the aforementioned standards (1- not publicly disclosed over a year ago and 2- falls under the patentable category of ideas), you are ready to begin preparing to apply for a patent with the U.S Patent Trade Office.
Before preparing your application, you’ll need to do a bit of background research to make sure that you are not wasting precious time or resources.
1. You’ve determined that you need a patent and not a trademark. As an innovative start-up, you may be unaware of the difference between a patent versus a trademark. A patent is a form of intellectual property that allows you to protect your unique ideas, while a trademark is a symbol or words that are legally registered for use by a company or product. In short, patents are for ideas or inventions.
2. After perusing Google Patents and/or hiring a knowledgeable patent expert (wink, wink), you are certain that your idea has not been publicly disclosed or emulated. As a start-up or entrepreneur, you want to make sure that your innovative software or product has not already been patented, thereby saving you both time and money.
PREPARING THE APPLICATION
The U.S Patent Trade Office recommends utilizing a registered attorney or agent (hello!) to help in your filing. In order to apply for a patent with the U.S Patent Trade Office, you must provide basic information regarding your idea or product.
1. Provide a written description of your idea [text]. A textual description of your idea will help the patent examiner to understand what it is you are trying to patent. Although it was previously thought that providing a basic, short explanation of your idea was the best method, after a recent Supreme Court case (Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l), it is now more effective to provide more details, including the nitty-gritty technical details of your software or invention.
2. Supplement the above with visual tools [drawings, charts, images]. Of course, visual tools will supplement your written explanation to provide the U.S Patent Trade Office with a better understanding of your innovative idea.
3. Prepare your “claims”—this is where you will need to show what makes your idea special & unique. KissPatent can help your start-up or business prepare its claims (oftentimes the most difficult argument to assert in an application). You will need to show why your invention or idea stands out compared to others.
4. Brace yourself for a healthy dose of bureaucratic paperwork. A patent application can take quite some time, but with careful preparation of texts, visual tools, and claims, you can be assured that you have prepared your patent application with all of the required components. [But don’t worry--we can help you with it!]
As with all services, you will also need to pay the appropriate fees, file your application at the U.S Patent Trade Office (USPTO)…and…wait…and…wait.
Your file will then be reviewed by an examiner—you will either be approved (congratulations!) If your application is not approved, fear not! You will be given the opportunity to re-do your application and make corrections. If you are not approved, the U.S Patent Trade Office will send you a letter (an “office action”) and give you the chance to improve your application.
The patent process may appear straightforward, but there are many moving parts that may delay your application. By enlisting an affordable, streamlined service package provided by KissPatent, you’ll be able to focus on innovation while we focus on the legal lingo.
Wondering if your idea is patentable? Have a question about this article? We can answer all of your questions — just hit "contact us" down below!