Getting a patent for your invention can be extremely helpful if you're trying to profit from your idea. Having a patent helps prevent other people from using your idea for a specific amount of time, and enables you to sue them for damages if they do.
However, if you choose to hire an attorney to help you file a patent, then you could be forced to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees. For many people, this is just not a reasonable option.
If you can't or don't want to hire an attorney to help you get a patent, then the best option is to do it yourself. Trying to obtain a patent yourself can be more difficult than having an attorney do it for you. However, it can be done. Here's how to get a patent without the help of an attorney.
1. Make sure that your idea qualifies for a patent.
There are a number of rules when it comes to patenting an idea. You must make sure that your idea is actually eligible for patenting before you do anything else. This means that no other patents can exist for an idea that's too similar to yours. You must also make sure that your patent is not anything that naturally occurs in nature, because creations of nature (such as grass, vegetables, rocks, etc.) cannot be patented.
There are a number of other things that cannot be patented as well. If you have questions about whether your idea is patentable, ask the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
2. Demonstrate how your idea works.
To get a patent, you must be able to describe exactly how your idea works. You will not have your patent approved it if makes an outrageous claim and then you cannot prove that this idea works. For example, you will not have your patent approved if you claim that you have invented a time machine made out of toothpicks, and you cannot show how this machine works.
3. Fill out a patent application and file it with the USPTO.
This step is crucial and it's impossible to obtain a patent without completing it. When you fill out this application, you will be instructed to include all relevant information for the patent.
For example, if there are any co-inventors, you'll have to list their names. Whether or not there are co-inventors could be highly relevant in case a patent is issued and a lawsuit is filed down the road that disputes patent ownership.
On the patent application, you will have to provide the name of your idea and describe in thorough detail how it works. There is typically a fee to file this application as well, which you must pay. A drawing of your invention is also usually required.
4. Wait to hear back from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
It can take months to hear back from the USPTO. However, they will eventually get to your patent application. When they look at it, they will inspect it for originality and legality, and to make sure that your invention could actually do the things that you are claiming it can do.
If everything is in order, then you will be granted a U.S. patent, which will be good for a certain amount of years. This patent will give you and your co-inventors (if you have any) the exclusive right to sell your invention for a certain amount of years. However, if your patent application is rejected, then you must look at the feedback, make any required changes and then reapply.
Obtaining a patent by yourself is definitely possible, and it is something that many inventors have done, and continue to do. However, if you go this route, then you will not be able to rely on the expertise and precision of a patent attorney. For this reason, many corporations that are trying to get something patented use patent attorneys. But, if you cannot afford a patent attorney, applying for it yourself is still a good option, and can still get you great results.