How to Patent the Next Great Idea – and Retire in the Sun
So you’ve come up with a brilliant idea and are now ready to turn it into a reality. But first, you need to protect your idea with a patent.
Actually, you can’t patent an idea, but you can file a patent application as soon as it’s sufficiently tangible to qualify as an invention.
For this, you’ll need a plan for transforming your idea into an invention. Together, the idea and the development plan form what is known as a “conception.”
How do you find out what kind of patent you should apply for? If you invented a new product or a new way to improve on an existing product, you can apply for a “utility patent.” Most inventions fit into this category.
However, if you’ve developed a new design that will change the appearance (but not the function) of an existing product, you’ll need a “design patent.”
The first step is to conduct a patent search to ensure your invention has not been previously patented.
It’s fairly easy to research a patent online, or you can consult a patent attorney or search expert.
If your idea hasn’t been “taken,” you’re ready to finalize your invention, a phase known as “reduction to practice.”
Now it becomes tangible and identifiable, either through the creation of a prototype or through a detailed description with illustrations, and you can file your application.
One caveat: more than half a million patent applications are filed annually, and few inventions prove successful.
Yours may be one; after all, you deserve your moment in the sun!