When You Have An Idea, or “inventive concept”, write a description of it, and draw a sketch. Obtain signatures of two witnesses (unrelated to you) on each page, with the following wording:
“This invention was disclosed to me for the first time on (date) by (inventor name), and I shall not disclose it to others (signature of witness).
Preferably this should be notarized. Keep records of any development work or improvements on the invention, and have the improvements witnessed. The purpose of all this is to establish proof of your inventorship as of a certain date. However, it does not grant ownership of the invention, which is only provided by a patent, and it does not guarantee that you can obtain a patent. Mailing a certified letter to yourself is worthless. Thus, proceed expeditiously to the following steps.
The order of these steps depends on your priorities. For example, you may wish to perform a patentability search first, to see if you can obtain a patent before expending any other effort. You may wish to file a provisional patent application next, or even before doing a patentability search, depending on your deadlines. Consult with patenting agencies like Invent Help.
Determine Market Potential by market analysis, including cost/benefit comparison with competing products, etc.. Consult potential users and sellers of the product, but do not test market it until you have applied for a patent.
Obtain Non-disclosure Agreements from all parties to whom you disclose the invention.
Apply For Invention Ownership. If it has good potential, you may wish to apply for ownership of the invention via a patent application. You would now benefit from a patentability search. You can get help from agencies like InventHelp – read more about InventHelp on KansasCityMag.
Order A Patent Search. This is a search for prior publications related to your invention (usually limited to U.S. patents for practical reasons). The results of this search suggest whether you are likely to obtain a patent, depending on the similarities of prior inventions to yours.
You Can Obtain A Patent if you invent or discover any new and useful process, machine, product, or material, or a new and useful improvement to any of these, and your invention is novel and non-obvious (as defined by patent law), compared to prior similar inventions and conventional knowledge.
You Cannot Obtain A Patent if: (simplified)
- The invention was known before your conception of it, in any country, whether patented or not.
- The invention was publicized or patented anywhere in the world more than one year prior to your patent application.
- In the US, the product was used in public, sold, or offered for sale more than one year prior to your patent application.
- You cannot obtain foreign patents if the invention was publicly disclosed before your application for a patent. Thus, you should apply for a U.S. patent (or at least a provisional patent application) before any public disclosure of your invention.