Patents – How to get started
Do you have an idea to patent?
- Can the idea be patented?
- What kind of patent do you need?
- What can you do to protect your rights while waiting for your patent?
Patented ideas are granted everyday that come from such diverse origins as Individual inventors to teams working for large, international corporations. Patentable ideas sometimes are conceived by accident. Others are composed out of necessity. Some are calculated by corporate designers or professional inventors. Still, many others are merely passed down through family connections. The point is that ideas often translate into patents. And once an invention becomes patent pending through the filing of a patent application, the inventor is on the road to a potentially lucrative endeavor that is quite possibly unique and can become legally protected.
More than just a ‘better mousetrap’: Even the term “invention” can be misleading. The proverbial “better mousetrap” is often cited as the archetypical patented invention. Other like inventions include tools, games, toys, electronics, vehicle parts, high-tech devices and low-tech devices. However, methods of doing business such as online business methods, online social networks, stock analysis methods and new systems and methods for manufacturing are just a few examples of ideas that have fallen under the rubric of “invention.” The law if constantly changing on the patentability of some methods. Unique and non-obvious modifications to existing inventions also can be patented.
Beyond abstract: For an idea to be termed an invention, one must have an idea and then reduce it to practice. In other words, an inventor must be capable of explaining how the idea will be reproducibly applied in a real world example. For instance, if an inventor conceives of a machine that can instantly transport a person from New York to Los Angeles, he or she has a great idea! But if the inventor actually knows how to build such a machine, he has a great invention. An idea needs to be more than just abstract to be an invention.
No prototypes necessary: Inventors do not need to build a model or prototype of an invention to make sure that it actually works. They only must be able to describe how the idea will be embodied or practiced. Most commonly, an inventor writes down an idea and draws pictures or flow charts of how the idea will look or be practiced. In fact, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does not even typically accept prototypes.
With strict confidentiality, Michael L. Greenberg, the Registered Patent Attorney at Greenberg & Lieberman, continues to guide people ranging from solo inventors to corporations around the world in determining whether their ideas have become patentable inventions.