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How to Apply for a Patent

You've just invented the greatest thing since the wheel. Protect your rights by applying for a patent.


  • Step 1: Download forms Visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office at "": You can download all necessary forms from this web site.
  • Step 2: Decide the type Determine the patent you need. A utility patent is for processes, machines, articles of manufacture, or compositions of matters. Design patents cover ornamental designs, and plant patents are for the asexual reproduction of any distinct and new variety of plant.
  • Step 3: File an application Follow the instructions to fill out and submit a provisional patent application. This establishes a filing date for your patent, and gives you 12 months to conduct record checks and gather documentation for a full patent application and examination.
  • TIP: The provisional application allows you to claim "patent pending," so that if you want to market your invention before you earn the patent, you can deter other manufacturers from trying to sell a similar product by warning them a patent on the invention may soon be issued.
  • Step 4: Do research Search on the USPTO's web site or Google's patent search ("": for existing patents that may supersede your claims. If a prior claim exists, you will need to adjust your application to prove how your invention differs from previous patented innovations.
  • TIP: Applying for a patent is a long, complicated process. To help, the USPTO recommends contacting one of the registered patent attorneys or agents listed on their site.
  • Step 5: Submit documentation Submit the required documentation, drawings, and fees to the USPTO. You can submit many of these materials online.
  • Step 6: Be patient Be patient. It may take several years for the patent office to process, review, and grant your patent. Once the process has been completed – and your patent approved – you will receive a document confirming your patent.
  • FACT: Albert Einstein's first steady job was as a clerk in the Swiss patent office – a job that allowed him enough free time to publish scientific papers.

You Will Need

  • A new device
  • process
  • plant
  • or design
  • Lots of patience
  • A patent attorney (optional) (optional) (optional)

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