How to Patent an Idea?

Assuming the idea is patentable, you need to file an application for a patent first. The United States Patent Office does not just pass out patents like candy. It’s a very complicated process developed by lawyers and our Federal Government.

 There are different flavors of patents but that’s a story for a different day. A lot of people are confused about how to go about filing a patent. Depending on who you ask, you will get different answers.

It like you have a pain in your neck. An orthpedic surgeon will tell you that you need surgery. A chiropractor will say you just need an adjustment. And a sports doctor will prescribe physical therapy.

The same is true for patents. Ask a patent attorney about filing a provisional patent application and they will say “Well … you really should file a full utility patent because the provisional is almost the full patent filing just without the claims.” Then they will say please pay me $5,000-$10,000 and we’ll get your patent filed with the USPTO.

5-10 grand? Who has that much cash? What if the patent it not appealing to a company for licensing. Then what, you have a nice plaque on your office wall with you name and a patent number. No thank you!

When I pressed the issue with an attorney I recently met, he did concede that if you were planning on licensing your invention you could get the company to pay for the patent.

BINGO! That is what we want to do here. We have lots of ideas. Some may pan out, some may not. I can’t see paying out 5-10 thousand dollars for a patent, at least right now. So what do we do?

Provisional Patent Applications (PPAs)

Since June 8, 1995, the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has offered inventors the option of filing a provisional application for patent which was designed to provide a lower cost first patent filing in the United States and to give U.S. applicants parity with foreign applicants under the GATT Uruguay Round Agreements.

A PPA gives you one year to look for a company to licence your invention, gives you patent pending status and it allow you protection under the US patent law. I’m not an attorney so please seek competent legal advice.

How to File a PPA

1) Hire an attorney. This will cost at least $2,000

2) Try an on-line service like Legal Zoom. Be aware of the extra costs.

  • PPA application $199 (this is the cost for use fo the website and for a paralegal to file the PPA with the USPTO)
  • Professional Drawings $299 (the patent application has to have drawings to explain the invention)
  • Attorney Review $320 (peace of mind fee to know that what you entered into LegalZoon is correct)
  • USPTO Fee $110 (everybody has to pay Uncle Sam)

 Grand Total: $928

3) Purchase Software and File yourself

Seems like once you pay for software, all you need to do is pay the USPTO the $110 fee for the PPA and you are home free. Not exactly.

  • Software $199
  • Drawings (do you have a CAD program?) Around $299

So you get through to the last step of the Do It Your Self PPA software and press the “File PPA” button. What do you see? A  place to enter your credit card number and send the PPA to the USPTO? No, you get the option to have:

  • Attorney  Review (recommended by the software) $299
  • Electronic Filing Service $89
  • USPTO Fee $110 (everybody has to pay Uncle Sam)

If you decide to file yourself with the USPTO, you need to have Adobe Writer, not reader. They only accept PDF files. This can run you another $299 or try Primo PDF for free.

Grand Total: $996 (but the next time you already have the software)

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