If you have invented something new, the first thing you need to do is apply for a patent. A patent protects your invention from being stolen and used by someone else. Because patents fall under the broad umbrella of intellectual property law, sometimes it can be quite difficult to understand everything relating to patents. Here are three things you need to know about getting a patent.
1. Your U.S. patent is only good in the U.S.
A common misconception about patents is that you just have to apply for the patent in one country and it is good in all of the others. This is actually not the case. If you get a patent in the U.S., it only protects your invention from infringement in the U.S.
If you want to make sure you are legally protected in the event that someone in another country infringes on your invention, you need to file for patents in each separate country. Otherwise, you will have few options when it comes to prosecuting those who create and sell your product in another country without your permission.
2. It can take a long time to get your patent approved.
Have you ever seen a commercial for a cool, new product or bought something and saw the words "Patent Pending" listed? The reason is because it can take a very long time to get a patent approved. In most cases, it can take years to get your patent approved after your initial application. And that's not counting the amount of time that is added if someone claims you stole the idea you are trying to get patented - that can make the process even longer.
Whoever owns the invention doesn't have to wait until the patent is approved to sell their item. Instead, they will label it with "Patent Pending," and wait for the final approval from the U.S. Patent Office.
3. You need to submit very detailed information and diagrams with your patent application.
Filing for a patent is not something that you should take lightly. There is much more to it than simply filling out a form and paying a fee. You need to be sure you submit very detailed information about your invention, how it works, how it's made, what purpose it serves, etc.
If the U.S. Patent Office isn't sure how your invention is made, they won't know if it's actually safe to use. If they don't know if it's safe, they likely won't approve your patent application. It would be a shame to spend the money to apply for the patent and wait years for its approval, just to have it denied because you failed to provide enough information and diagrams to give the Patent Office a clear understanding of your invention.
For help filing a patent, work with a patent attorney who can make sure you complete the necessary requirements.