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Michael J Foycik Jr
by Michael J Foycik Jr.

The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at IP1lwyr@gmail.com, or call at 877-654-3336.
An idea or any useful device or method
Each “how to patent” subject is discussed in detail below. Here are ways to get a patent.

Introduction and types of patent
Many types of ideas can be patented. Anything that has a function or use can be patented. Also, patent protection can cover many (but not all) types of business methods, most types of computer programs, new methods and processes, new chemicals and compounds, and new materials or new uses for old materials. Where the invention is for a design feature or an ornamental cover or casing, for example, then a design patent is the best way of protecting the invention. How to get a design patent, and how to patent a design, is explained in a separate section below.

How to Patent an Idea
An idea can best be protected by a utility patent application. This is also sometimes called a “regular” patent application. The idea can be explained in words and, if possible, by drawings. The drawings do not need to be like blueprints; instead, they are simplified and do not usually have to show conventional features. And, it is not necessary to have a working model.

Before getting into the details, we would like to mention that there is also something called a “provisional patent application” discussed hereunder. It gives patent pending status for one year, permitting a utility patent application to be filed at any time during that year. That is another way to get a patent. The provisional application is much less expensive than a utility patent application, and can be recommended when there is an urgent need to get a patent application on file with the US Patent Office. For example, just prior to a trade show or publication of the invention, there is an urgent need to have the idea on file with the US Patent Office. For further information, see the section below called “How to patent using a provisional patent application.”

Here's a simple example showing how to patent an idea for a very simple and amusing invention. The simple idea: add a blinking light to a pencil eraser. For the moment, we aren't concerned with whether it has been done before; we could find that out using a patent search if we wished. For now, the idea would be expressed in words in the patent application, written just as above. And, since it is possible to illustrate the idea in a drawing, we would also add a sketch showing where the light should be placed on the eraser. What else should be shown? The light should have a power source, for example a small solar panel or a small battery, and connecting wires should be shown connecting the power source to the light. Then, text is added to the patent application by describing the parts shown in the drawings, explaining possible uses and advantages, and mentioning possible alternatives that are included in the invention such as various types of light sources such as LEDs, incandescent bulbs, phosphorescent lighting, and so on.

Next, a claim is added to describe the invention broadly, such as the following:

Claim 1: A pencil eraser having a light, comprising: a pencil body; an eraser member attached at one end of the pencil body; a light source mounted on the eraser; and a power source connected to supply power to the light source.

Standard text is then added including sections titled: background of the invention; summary of the invention; brief description of the drawings; and an abstract of the disclosure. These are not usually hard to do, but can take some time.

Then, a Declaration is prepared showing the name of the inventor and title of the invention. This is from a standard form provided by the US Patent Office.

Last, a cover page including a Transmittal sheet is prepared, listing what is being filed with the US Patent Office. The Transmittal page normally will include a check for the amount of the US government filing fee, and a postcard filing receipt. The check can be omitted, as can the signed Declaration, but in that case the US Patent Office will send a notice asking for those items along with a relatively small late fee.

The drawings may or may not be accepted as filed. If not accepted, the US Patent Office sends a notice, and sets a time period for submitting the formal drawings. A specially skilled draftsman normally prepares the formal drawings, since the US Patent Office has very specific and detailed requirements for the drawings. We work with such a skilled patent draftsman, to provide the formal drawings.

The application is examined by the US Patent Office. If granted, the application matures into a utility patent. A granted utility patent can be enforced in court, and it can be assigned and licensed too.

If you call or email us, we would be happy to discuss your invention or idea. There is no charge for discussing how to patent your idea or invention. Sometimes we can provide an insight into how to manufacture or market the invention, based on our experiences. We can help with negotiating with potential distributors, investors, and licensees. We can explain how to get a patent, how to patent your ideas, the costs involved, and any other issues of interest to you. We can explain what might help, and the lowest cost ways to get the needed protection. This is at no charge, and we like talking with inventors.

At this point we can provide a fixed fee estimate, based on your brief description of your idea. In some cases, we would need to see more information such as a drawing or a written description, that would help us form an accurate fixed fee estimate. That is all confidential. At that point, if you wish to proceed further, then you would provide one half the estimated amount in advance; we prepare the draft application and paperwork; then you send the other half of the fee after you have approved a final draft that you feel is ready for filing with the US Patent Office.

We would enjoy helping you get a patent! And, if you like, we can give our comments based on our own experience on how to commercialize the invention, including suggestions on manufacturing, marketing, and attracting investors.

And that is how to patent an idea!
The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at IP1lwyr@gmail.com, or call at 877-654-3336.