Patent refers to the exclusive rights or legal protection granted by the federal government through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to an individual or his assignees to protect their original design, process, product or new inventions, from being used, made or sold by other people for a designated period of time in return for the inventor's full public disclosure of the invention. If you have just recently invented or conceived something, it is imperative to take legal action and understand applicable laws pertaining to patent information.
Under the United States patent law, a patent can only be granted if the invention meets three criteria. Your invention must be useful, novel – meaning no one else did it before, and non-obvious to a person who has the skills to which your invention is related. If your invention passed the criteria, the first step in protecting your invention is to complete and submit an invention disclosure form to the Patent Trademark Office. The disclosure form contains the title of the invention, your name and contact details, description of the invention, date of conception, purpose of your invention, drawing, photos or illustration of your invention with a description of parts, features and how the invention is to be used, and product testing results. USPTO preserves the document for two years as evidence of the date of the invention's conception. Public disclosure on the other hand, can be in the form of posters, books, pamphlets, manuscripts, abstracts, publications, web postings, presentation at conferences, product testing or samples distributed to colleagues for research purposes. Ensure that within one year of public disclosure, you have already filed a patent application with the USPTO otherwise you will lose patenting rights.
While your patent application is still pending, remember that you still have to keep certain confidentiality on your invention in order to prevent others from claiming your work. It is important to manage the information you share with other people. Take note that someone else who filed for patent on the same invention ahead of your application date is more likely to be granted the patent. Refer to USPTO's procedures for cases where infringement occurs.
While you can apply for a patent without legal assistance, consider hiring a patent lawyer's service which will ensure your patent filing, patent research, patent registration and all other patent pertinent issues. It may be expensive but a patent specialist guarantees that your patent is capable of being enforced by law.
All patent information and rules for patents are governed by USPTO, which is responsible for examining your application and granting you the patent. If your invention is entitled to a patent, USPTO will send you a notice and will indicate the amount or fee you need to pay in order to be issued a patent. Patent shall be granted in the name of the United States of America bearing the seal of the USPTO, signed by the director and recorded in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Failure to pay the fee within three months however will be considered as abandoned.