What are the steps for applying for a patent to protect my invention?
Typically, there’s a four-step process:
Step One: Prior art search. Using a disclosure statement – a 1-2 page concise summary that you write – a search is performed against issued patents, patent applications, and the marketplace to find inventions that are closest to your idea.
Step Two: Search evaluation. The results of the search are used to make a decision as to whether to proceed with a patent application, or a provisional application. In essence, you must be the first to invent something in order to be issued a patent on it.
Step Three: Prepare & submit application. If step 2 is positive, a patent application or provisional application can be drafted and filed.
Step Four: Get Patent to Issue. Usually the Patent Office rejects the claims of the application and states why the invention is not eligible for a patent. Written arguments then go back-and-forth, sometimes fine-tuning the claims. While inventors often find this unsettling, many IP experts consider that this vetting process results in a stronger patent than if the application simply went straight-to-issue as it was submitted.
What are the costs for working with GMI towards obtaining a patent?
Costs vary significantly according to the particulars of an invention. Typically:
In addition, the patent office requires fees for each application. These range from a provisional application fee of a little over $100, to maintenance fees (only after a patent issues) of several thousand dollars.
Do we have to search first? I’m certain I’m the first to make my invention.
There are many inventions described in patents that have never made it to market and that you’re very likely unaware of. The patent office does not require you to search before submitting a patent application, but the patent office performs its own search while examining your patent. If your idea has already been created or patented, it’s much better to spend a little money and find that out sooner than spend a lot of money and find out later.
I’d like to draft and submit a patent application myself to save money. Can GMI just help me with the parts I think are hard — like writing claims or replying to patent office responses about my application?
Yes. GMI works with inventors like this on an hourly basis and is happy to do so.
Where can I learn more about patents and the patenting process?
See the FAQ’s on the website for the US Patent and Trademark Office. Of course, there are many other resources found on the internet as well.