How Do I Protect My Invention?


Because you must file a patent application (and get it approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office) before your invention is protected, secrecy is important. You don't want to disclose anything about your invention until you've taken all of the necessary steps. If you need to tell people about the invention before the application is filed, you should have a Confidentiality or Non-Disclosure Agreement. These types of agreements make people promise not to talk about your invention except under whatever restrictions you set. If they break the promise, you could have them on the hook for violating the agreement.

Once you're ready to file the patent application, you'll need lots of information to give the patent office. Whether you try to go at it alone, or you hire a patent attorney or agent, you still will be intimately involved in the process.

A patent application has several parts, including:

  • A title;
  • An abstract;
  • A background summary of the field your invention stems from;
  • A summary of the invention;
  • Drawings (optional);
  • A description of any drawings, if you have any; and
  • Claims.

It can be expensive, in terms of time and money, to obtain a good, quality patent application. Once you've filed a patent application with the Patent Office, that is only the first step in the process.

Your application will be assigned to a person called an Examiner. This person will have a background in the field of your invention, and their job is to read your application to determine whether you meet all of the patent requirements. In many cases, they will either reject certain parts of your application or ask for further clarification through a letter called an Office Action. After a few rounds of this, you may need to make changes to your application to get the Examiner to approve it. You may also need to appeal some of the Examiner's decisions. This process can take anywhere from six months to three years, on average.

If you would like assistance filing a patent application for your invention, please reach out to us.