Every groundbreaking invention begins with an idea. But to ensure that the inventor exclusively benefits from their innovation, a patent must be procured. Patents are critical legal tools that provide inventors with exclusive rights to their inventions, prohibiting others from manufacturing, selling, or using the invention without permission. Invention companies like InventHelp can assist new inventors with the patent protection process.
Understanding What Can Be Patented
The first step in the patent protection process involves determining if your invention can be patented. Not every creation or idea can receive patent protection. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), an invention must be useful, novel, and non-obvious to qualify for a patent. It could range from a process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any improvement thereof.
Conducting a Patent Search
Once it is established that an invention can be patented, the next vital step is a patent search. The search examines already existing patented inventions to ensure your invention is indeed novel and non-obvious. The USPTO online database is a good starting point, but bear in mind that conducting a thorough patent search is complex and time-consuming. Many inventors choose to employ professional help, such as InventHelp, which offers services to help inventors with this aspect of the patent process.
Preparing the Patent Application
After validating the uniqueness of your invention, the patent application process begins. This phase is perhaps the most challenging one, as the application has to include certain elements like abstract, specification (both descriptive and illustrative), claims, and an oath or declaration. The complexity of this step often necessitates the help of patent professionals or attorneys. Companies like InventHelp provide assistance in patent application preparation to ease this process for the inventors.
You can apply for a non-provisional patent (regular patent application), which starts the official examination process, or a provisional patent, which gives you a filing date but starts no examination process – providing up to 12 months to file a non-provisional application.
Upon filing a non-provisional patent application with the USPTO, the examination process begins. A patent examiner reviews the application to determine the invention’s eligibility for patent protection. During this period, the inventor or their patent attorney may need to communicate with the examiner regarding different aspects of the invention and the application. InventHelp offers continued support during this period, aiding in the communication and clarity of the patent examination process.
If the patent examiner determines that the invention fulfills the patentability requirements, the patent will be granted. This process could take a couple of years, as it requires rigorous scrutiny to maintain the credibility of the patent system. InventHelp guides their clients through this waiting period, updating them on any developments.
Maintaining the Patent
Once a patent is granted, the inventor must maintain it by paying maintenance fees at scheduled intervals. Failure to do so could lead to the patent expiring before the end of its standard life, which could be up to 20 years for utility patents and up to 15 years for design patents. InventHelp assists its clients in understanding and managing their patent maintenance responsibilities to ensure their patents remain valid.
Does it cost to use InventHelp services? InventHelp charges a fee for their services, which is determined on a case-by-case basis. InventHelp reviews each client’s situation, and then provides an estimate of the costs involved in protecting their invention. Many inventors choose to use this service because it can help them avoid some of the pitfalls that come with patenting on your own.
In conclusion, securing patent protection is an intricate process that requires a deep understanding of patent law and procedures. With such knowledge, inventors can adequately protect their creative works and gain exclusive rights to their inventions, fostering a culture of innovation and economic progress. Having trusted professional help like InventHelp can make the process more manageable and allow inventors to focus on what they do best – create.