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How to Patent an Idea for Invention

You’ve designed something exceptional, an idea that could change the world for the better (or at least part of it) and you’ve come to the most important part – you want to make it officially yours and patent it. You’re full of sketches and drawings. And sure that your product could be commercially exploited, you could successfully self-employ and soon develop the right production over time. However, you also don’t want it to come into someone else’s hands and for someone else to shamelessly get rich based on your anguish and hours of work.

So, whenever we have a great idea for innovation in any field, the same questions arise: How to do it? How to patent a product? How to know if it’s already registered? In this article, we will explain the basic notions you should know to protect your ideas and make that dream come true.

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What should you know about this?

A patent is a title that recognizes the right to exclusively exploit an invention, preventing others from manufacturing, selling or using it without the owner’s consent. In return, what is legally protected is made available to the public for general knowledge?

In this sense, we need to understand that they’re the only valid means to prove ownership of an idea or concept of industrial application. These are property titles and as such allow the inventor to conduct negotiations based on the total or partial session of the exploitation rights of the idea. In order to achieve this, your innovation needs to meet three requirements:

  • To be totally new in the world.
  • To be inventive (not based on any obviousness).
  • Not to be abstract: to have an industrial application and be able to be carried out.

Legally protecting an idea entails undergoing a legal procedure regulated by strict and generally immovable deadlines, as they recall from the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). That’s why it’s more than advisable to hire a lawyer or an industrial property consultant with experience in these areas. From the PTO they also recommend studying the application procedure in detail and requesting it in a strategic way, at the time and for the reasons that best suit their exploitation plans.

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Decide what and how we want to protect

The first thing we have to do is define well what we want to protect, with what image and under what brand or name. Also, to make sure that there’s really nothing like that in the world.

Then, we’ll present our application at the PTO, accompanied by other documents such as the applicant’s data, a description of the idea with their respective plans, novelty claims (according to the PTO, the most important aspect) and a summary of everything.

Clarify the ownership from the beginning

It’s our responsibility or the responsibility of the team we work with (as well as the institutions involved in the development), to define this. It needs to be known who is going to be the holders since it can be registered by several people.

When the person or institutions involved in a development don’t clarify this situation from the beginning, the confusion generated might legally complicate later, and even stop the protection process. So, always think about this.

Think about documentation

The documentation needed to apply for a patent may seem simple at first glance. A descriptive memory’s simply required where it’s all explained. Claims where the desired protection is specifically established, drawings, a request with the information of the owner and the inventors… The problem is that poor writing of the report or claims strongly affects the protection granted.

An example of bad writing: one that defines the invention too concretely so that a third party with a small modification no longer infringes it. The problem’s even greater when one reads the law and discovers that the initially submitted documentation can’t be easily corrected without losing the application date. Given the difficulty of the subject and the importance of good protection for the business, there are professionals in drafting and processing. These professionals are industrial property agents or patent agents. It’s also possible to hire a company like Invent Help whose representatives will be more than happy to shape your ideas with you and help you go through the process.

Presentation and pre-examination

When all the documentation is there, a presentation date or priority date is granted to the application. After that, a form examination will be carried out to verify that the papers are okay. From there we have a whole year to submit protection applications in other countries if we see that our idea can have commercial success outside of our state. At some point in it we’ll receive a search report of possible ideas similar to ours. The PTO, after reviewing the formal requirements required, will conduct an international search. Its aim is detecting the most similar examples of ideas that may affect the novelty, inventive activity and industrial application of the thing we want to patent. Made by an experienced examiner, this report usually includes a patentability opinion that will eventually be forwarded to the patent applicant.

Grant of the patent

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In the end, the PTO issues an application receipt – the document that establishes the starting point of the rights. From the date of application, the invention can already be disclosed without risk to affect the process. In practice, once the patent is filed, the person or company that has developed the invention begins to present the invention to potential customers, suppliers or investors. If the examiners decide to grant it, upon payment of all fees, the decision is published in the Official Bulletin of Industrial Property, and the legal protection will be effective from the same day of the date of publication.

And about other countries…

These, like the other industrial property registers, are territorial in nature and therefore only offer protection in those countries where they’re registered. The law establishes a period of 12 months, expandable to 30 months, from the date of application of the first patent to apply for the same thing in other countries. If the applicant doesn’t take advantage of this period, he can no longer request protection for the same invention in other countries.

We hope that this guide and steps helped you become even more motivated to show your best to the world and make something that will change it. Don’t hesitate anymore – now you have all you need to do it – make it happen!


Peter is a freelance writer with more than eight years of experience covering topics in politics. He was one of the guys that were here when the foreignpolicyi.org started.

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