"Inventors - Your Frequently Asked Questions"*What is a patent?

A patent is a grant that gives a person the authority to stop others from manufacturing, selling, using, or importing their patented invention. This authority is effective for twenty years from the patent application filing date. It is a contract between a person and the state in which he or she is permitted to exercise a restricted monopoly in exchange for allowing the invention to be made public.

Patent rights are territorial; that is, the patent granted in the United States does not give a person rights outside the country. This is also the case on patents granted to inventions in the United Kingdom, Australia, and other countries.

*How do I finance my invention?

In case you do not have personal finance resources but absolutely have the determination to get your invention on the market, the best thing that you can do is to turn your invention into a commercial product.

You also have the option to ask for financial assistance from the federal government through the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or Department of Energy (DOE) if your invention is related to power generation or other energy-related issues.

*Are there grants available to help with inventions?

Yes, there are grants given to aid the development of certain inventions. There are non-profit organizations that are composed of wealthy individuals, families, and corporations. These people are giving cash grants every year to help develop inventions, although part of this “help” is to shield these people and businesses from taxes.

*Is there other financing available to market my invention?

Yes, there are other financing and assistance programs available that will help you market your invention. These include tax incentives and individuals who have large investments in private companies.

These individuals finance the invention to develop it further and make it competitive not only in the United States but also in the international community by means of international invention events that take place every year.

*How do I find out if somebody has already the same idea for an invention?

You can have a patent check to determine if your idea already exists. It is done by searching all the existing patents listed in the Patent Office’s database to see if your invention is already patented. It also includes searching printed materials such as catalogs, magazines, and articles. Since patent lists are now computerized, the search can now be performed by the click of a mouse.

*Do I need a patent for an invention?

Yes, you should patent your invention. It is looked upon from different viewpoints, but is briefly described in the following items.

– Patenting an invention is a one of the best ways of marketing it. It gives you legal grounds for establishing a monopoly for the manufacturing, production, and marketing of the invention under free market conditions.

– Without patent protection, others can copy your idea at no cost and sell the product at a cheaper price, thus generating income without asking for your permission. Also, they can patent your invention under their name. In other words, they can effectively steal the idea from you.

– A patent also ensures you of market position and occupying new markets.

– A patent is considered your “trademark” — that you actually invented a device. It can be a way of recording your name in the history of technology, especially if it is now introduced in the market.