How to file a patent: A simple guide for startups
Every year, hundreds of thousands of patents are granted to creators.
Have you created something cool? Are you ready to share it with the world, but want to make sure that no one can take it from you? Is your new thing “new and useful”?
It might be time to file a patent!
This is probably a really exciting time for you, but this might be a bit of a confusing process if you’ve never done it before. Do you know how to file a patent?
Don’t worry. Read this simple guide for the necessary steps for filing a patent for your new invention.
This process can take a long time (up to a year and a half to hear your first notifications or updates, and 30 months to get actually get your patent issued) so it’s best to start as soon as possible.
This might seem like a waste of time, but as long as no one else has patented this product yet, you’re probably in the clear. You just have a very long wait ahead of you. This might be time best spent on focusing on other aspects of your potential business.
Until then, this is how you get started.
First, make sure that no one else has patented this product before.
You might think that your invention is totally unique, but there are a lot of people in the world. There are only so many ideas to go around. If your product is already patented, you can no longer go through with the process.
2. Decide What Kind of Patent You Need
What kind of object or service are you patenting? You have three options:
- Design: Mostly for ornamental characteristics
- Plant: A new kind of plant that’s asexually reproduced
- Utility: The most common. This is for a useful process, machine, or object
All of these require different kinds of patents, so make sure that you do it correctly to avoid extending the amount of time this is going to take.
3. Domestic or International?
Decide if you’re going to file your patent domestically or if you need global support.
Many startups only file domestically but this leaves them at risk in the future as patents don’t hold across international borders.
The Patent Cooperation Treaty allows you to file one patent application that holds in all cooperating countries. It won’t mature into a patent and choices about nationalization need to be made within 30 months, but your property is protected.
This is a good time to consider patent translation services, if you need them, as well.
4. Need a Lawyer?
You can file by yourself, but if you’re doing something a little more complicated (or if it’s your first time and you’re not sure how to file a patent correctly) it might be best to use a registered attorney or agent.
Especially if filing internationally, this agent can help ensure that everything goes smoothly.
5. Prepare to File
This is it! You’re going to determine any application fees and apply for a digital certificate and customer number. Then, you’re ready to electronically file with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Do You Know How to File a Patent?
It’s mostly preparation and research at this point, the filing part is easy. As long as you do your due diligence in ensuring all of your bases are covered, you’ll have your patent in no time and your product or service will be safe.
If you get stuck, consider calling an attorney to help you.
For more tips on patents and other business needs, visit the rest of our website.