You’ve been struck with brilliance and you want to make sure no one steals your new idea—or, technically speaking, your Intellectual Property (IP). How do you put measures into place to ensure your idea is protected? The process is more simple than you think.
Preparing to Apply for a Patent
To receive a patent, you’ll have to apply for a patent application. But, before that can be done, there are several important steps that you should perform to prepare, listed below.
1. Ensure your idea qualifies for a patent
This sounds like it might be common sense, but in actuality, not every great idea is worthy of patent protection. You’ll need more than just your intellectual creation—you’re going to have to prove how your idea works. Also, you’ll need to ensure it meets each of the following qualifications:
2. Maintain documentation of your process to developing your idea
If it will be useful in helping explain the function of your product (as described in Item 1 above), it might be worth it to build a functional model of your idea. At the very least, it’s a good idea to follow your process, from moment of inspiration through every diagram and equation you’ve worked out to get to your final product.
3. Make a realistic assessment of what the commercial potential of your product is
The patent process can be quite expensive. After all, it is a business-related move that could significantly alter the way a particular process is carried out. If it is decided that it’s financially viable to spend the money and time to get the patent, then proceed forward. If your idea, however, doesn’t seem to have much potential commercially, it may be best to reconsider, or to at the very least make tweaks to your idea to make it more viable financially.
4. Conduct research for similar products
Many times, an idea will be conceived that already exists in some similar variation somewhere else. Google is your best friend in this regard—in fact, they have their own sector for patent-related searches: Google.com/patents.
Make sure there is no idea that too closely resembles your own already floating around out there, or you may find yourself in violation of someone else’s patent.
For more specific searches, visit the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office website at USPTO.com.
Additionally, it’s also worth searching international databases to make sure nothing abroad could potentially already be accomplishing the goals of your new idea.
Getting Going on the Patent
In the days before the technological age, it was a very expensive process to ensure that an idea was patentable. Lawyers were almost always required to conduct the research, which added on to the already-expensive fees of obtaining the patent itself. Now, you can take your research into your own hands with the simple steps outlined above.
Keep in mind, patents only last for 20 years before your monopoly on your idea is up, so it’s time to get going on applying for your patent!