|How Do I Get Started?
First, make sure you have invented something. Vague ideas for an invention are not good enough. That is, have you conceived of, built and tested your invention - thereby determining that your invention produces some useful result? This process is called "reduction to practice". If you have built and tested your invention you should record these facts in writing and have that writing reviewed and witnessed by some person you trust to maintain your disclosure in confidence. Occasionally, an inventor is unable to build and test the invention because of its size, cost or complexity. It may, nevertheless be possible to qualify as an invention anyway, if through the inventor's written description of the invention, including diagrams and sketches (as may be appropriate and useful), it is clear that the invention will surely work, and if the inventor timely files a patent application. Even so, it is far preferable to actually build and test the invention, if at all possible.
Your next step would be to request a patent search and report. In order to qualify for a patent, your invention must be new and not obvious (to a person of ordinary skill in your field) at the time you invented it. A patent search is therefore necessary in order to determine whether your invention is likely to be considered new and not obvious by the Patent Office. For most inventions, this firm will perform a patent search and provide a written report for a fixed fee of $1,250.00 ($1,750 and up for chemical and electronic inventions). Ours are a "hands-on" search in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and not merely a search of a computerized data bank. This process usually takes about one month but can be expedited with an additional fee. In addition to assisting in determining patentability, the search results are used in describing the prior art in the patent application, as required by patent office rules.
The Patent Application.
If the patent search and report indicates a reasonable chance that the invention will qualify for a patent, the inventor can authorize this firm to prepare and prosecute a patent application in the US and/or foreign countries.