If you have an idea for an invention or an improvement for an invention, it's important to protect that idea from infringement. By submitting your idea to the United States Patent and Trademark office, you can register your idea and prevent someone else from creating, selling or using your invention without permission. This article will show you how to do that.
Perform a patent search to find out if anyone else has already patented your idea. You can perform this search in person in Alexandria, Virginia, or you can visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark office website (see Resources below) and do it electronically.
Determine whether you want to file a disclosure document or a provisional application. A disclosure document does not allow you to use the term "patent pending" on your product but it does establish the date on which you conceptualized your invention and filed it with the office. A provisional application is an actual application for patent and allows you to use the term "patent pending" on your creation.
Download the appropriate forms from the U.S. Patent and Trademark website (see References below). Fill them out completely and submit a detailed drawing when appropriate.
Submit your application either online, in person or through the mail. Make sure that all forms are filled out, your drawing is attached (if required) and that you've included your payment. You can find out the current cost of a patent application on the U.S. Patent and Trademark website.
Check the status of your patent application. It can take more than two years for a patent to be completely processed. You can check on the status anytime by visiting the U.S. Patent website.
The patent process can be lengthy and complicated. You may wish to retain an attorney that specializes in patent filing.
Do not fax in your patent application. It will not be accepted.