How to get an Invention Patent and Patent Help

First steps to patent an invention

1. Avoid using a patent idea service
2. Confirm the invention idea before patenting
3. Evaluate the invention carefully with a prototype
4. Get advice from a reputable patent invention lawyer

For more details on patenting and how to get started with your invention read Inventing 101. Click on the links below for an introduction to patents and for patent help.

Basic Facts About Patents
Learn About Invention Protection
Patent Attorney and Agent Listings
Patent Research
Patent Drawing Services
Thoughts on Defending a Patent Against Knockoffs

First Things First
Patents are good things... but most inventors overvalue them. An invention will not succeed if there is not a good market for it. Period. A patent might enable a company to make a better than normal profit from selling the invention; if it does then the inventor can probably collect a royalty. We suggest avoiding patent idea service companies because they will encourage you to spend money on a patent even if the invention has little chance of market success. Moreover most patent idea service companies will not do as good a job in getting a patent as a reputable patent lawyer or agent. Patents are tricky things. It's really not too hard to get one on something. What's hard is to get a patent that's worth the time, effort, stress and... money. As a reality check keep in mind that a simple mechanical patent typically costs between $10,000 and $20,000. There's a big difference between "a patent" and "a good patent." Patent help is expensive but if your invention finds great commercial success it's worth every penny.

Prior Art
"Prior art" is a term that describes things that are publicly known. Prior art cannot be patented. However, since patents are about unique details, prior art that superficially overlaps the broad concept of the invention may not prevent a patent from being issued on the details of that invention. Knowledge of prior art can help to improve an invention - that, in fact, is one of the main reasons for the entire patent system. Researching prior art is the first step to getting a patent. Patent research is hard to do well and professional help is worth the expense. However, in the early stages, even inexperienced inventors can benefit greatly by visiting the USPTO website and doing some preliminary research. On the home page under "Patents", click on "Search" and then on "Quick Search". Once there you will see blank boxes for Term 1 and Term 2. Enter a single word that describes your invention in each box. To the right of the key word box you will see a menu box for each Field. Open the menu boxes and set them to "Abstract" for each term. The Abstract is a summary of the invention and is a good place to start your search. Click here to go directly to the USPTO Quick Search Page.

Learn About Invention Protection

  • Protecting Your Invention - Invention City Article - Summary information on basic issues and methods for protecting an invention.
  • Confidentiality Agreement Review - Invention City Article. Learn about the most basic tool of invention protection. Examples provided.
  • The Disclosure Dilemma - Invention City Article. You need to talk about the invention to move it forward. How do you do that without giving away the store?
  • Inventing: First Steps - Invention City President Mike Marks tells you how to protect, evaluate and prototype your invention on a tight budget - (book offer).
  • Do It Yourself Patent Course - An 11-hour instructional DVD set taught by Andrew Knight, J.D., Registered Patent Agent, a graduate of MIT and Georgetown Law, a university instructor, and the inventor of 13 issued U.S. Patents and 15 pending patent applications. Available free on YouTube.
  • Overview of Patent Law - Brief 1-page summary of patent law from Cornell Law School.
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office - The USPTO web site is a must visit for every inventor.
  • Patent It Yourself - David Pressman's classic belongs on every inventor's bookshelf. It provides an in-depth understanding of the patent process and will help you make intelligent decisions regardless of whether or not you actually do it yourself. The cost is $39.96. The value is easily twice that much.
  • Handbook for Inventors - Basic information provided free by MIT
  • Legal Evaluation - The law offices of Brown, Pinnisi & Michaels, PC offer a series of questions that you should consider, prior to attempting to patent your invention. Read Invention City's answers to the 4 questions posed by Brown & Michaels.
  • So, you have an idea? The Franklin Pierce Law Center provides a fabulous discussion of how to protect your idea before you begin to discuss it with potential buyers.
  • Did Edison Knock Off the Light Bulb? Electrically charged article from

Patent Attorney and Agent Listings

Patent Research

  • Google Patents is a great place top start a patent search..
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office - Currently you can search through full text patents issued since 1976. Full page images may be viewed going back to 1790
  • - This site is a fantastic resource when you want to view or print a copy of a patent complete with drawings. This is not a site for searches. Enter a patent number and the patent is retrieved in Adobe pdf format.
  • IP Tool Bar - One stop resource for all forms of intellectual property research: patents, trademarks, copyrights, domain names... US and worldwide. Nicely done.
  • PatentHunter - Software program that downloads and manages United States patent images. Free Trial Version available.
  • Delphion - Slick tool for searching patents by key word and phrase back to 1971. You need Adobe Acrobat Reader installed to view images of patent front pages.
  • LawCrawler - Contains an index of legal subjects, cases and codes, and various legal associations, in addition to basic searching.
  • The European Patent Office - Provides the ability to search through its patents. Beware that patent law differs amongst countries.
  • VersusLaw - Provides full-text opinions from Federal and State Appellate Courts, dating back to 1950.
  • Software Patent Institute - Database includes computer manuals, old textbooks and journal articles, conference proceedings, computer science theses, and other materials dating back to 1955.
  • Ag Biotechnology Patents and New Technologies - Database of the USDA Biotechnology Information Center, which provides full-text listings of agricultural biotechnology patents dating back to 1994.

Patent Drawing Services

  • The Write Stuff offers quality patent illustration services for inventors and patent attorneys, as well as 3D virtual prototyping services.
  • Patent Drafting Company offers high quality low cost patent illustration services for independent inventors.


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Virtual Prototyping

Great article! I recently used a local company in order to build my design into a digital representation. The company is called Orange Grapes and they are the best I could find.

by: Josh Peters