This question frequently ponders the minds of inventors who have created some useful product/object. If you think that you have invented something useful and you want to protect your invention so to lessen the potential of others trying want to steal or copy your invention, filing a patent application is the next logical step. Not to mention that all your hard work could potentially be wasted if you don’t get a patent as others take your idea and claim it as their own.  In fact, it is likely advisable that you not publicize your invention until you get a patent.

A patent is a promise made by the government of any country to protect your invention and to provide you with some exclusive rights, including the rights to claim as originator, to produce, sell or use the patented item.

In most cases it is the best way to protect your invention from unauthorized usage. You can then take legal action against the person who tries to copy your invention in any form. If you don’t apply for a patent then anyone can copy your invention and easily make money from it.

If you don’t have adequate information about how to get a patent, there are several ways to proceed. You can turn to the internet but oftentimes the information is unreliable, conflicting and confusing. And each country has its own procedure of issuing a patent.

You can also hire a lawyer who specializes in patent laws. Keep in mind that many inventors have successfully obtained patents without the help of lawyers. It all depends on how resourceful you are and how much risk you are willing to take by doing it yourself.

To get a patent, your invention must be new and useful. You should prove that your invention works. And that  no one else has the same product already on the market or in the process of patent approval.

It is also important to understand that every invention cannot be patented. You should determine whether your project is commercially viable. These are the prerequisites to acquire a patent. Your invention has to qualify for a patent.

You should keep a record of your invention. Note every step of your invention process. Describe every aspect of your invention. You should also build a prototype of your invention and test it when possible. That can include using a company that can make a prototype or building it yourself. All these efforts should be documented. Again, it is important to make sure that your invention meets all requirements for getting a patent.

There are basically two types of patents to which you can apply: a regular patent or a provisional patent. Spend some time learning the difference and which one would best suit your situation.

The next step is to file a patent application. You may have to spend some time and money for filling a patent. To obtain a patent, you must submit patent application and pay the application fees. Then you wait. Wait for approval of the application or any changes you need to make to secure the patent.

Research the rules and regulations regarding the patent application process. Familiarity with patent laws will get you one step closer to getting a patent for your invention.

There is also the option to get an international patent with its own set of rules, regulations and fees.

The best place to start is at the USPTO.gov website. There you will find patent applications, rules, regulations, patent law and a searchable database of current patent-holders. By doing this you can save yourself years of angst and potentially thousands of dollars (or more).

For more information visit our page on Patents here: http://inventingwomen.com/patents/