Invention City Helps Inventors
Patents are private intellectual property




How to Patent and Protect Your Intellectual Property.

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 you 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.

Guidelines for new inventors:

  1. Confirm the invention idea before patenting (research the market and prior art).
  2. Develop and refine your concept with a working prototype.
  3. Get advice from a reputable patent lawyer or agent.
  4. Consider Invention City's Brutally Honest Review
  5. Start learning about patents and invention commercialization:

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 or Google Patent Search and doing some preliminary research. If you go to USPTO, 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.

Learn About Invention Protection

  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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

Patent Research Links

  • Espacenet - The European Patent Office search tool covers the world, including the USA.
  • 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.
  • PatentHunter - Software program that downloads and manages United States patent images. Free Trial Version available.
  • Clarivate - 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.
  • 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.

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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