Collecting a patent requires an original idea, knowledge of the process, and dogged persistence. The original idea and the persistence are your responsibilities. The process to collect a patent can be broken down into these basic steps.
Step 1 - Determine the type of patent to collect
There are three basic types of patents. The first is a Utility Patent. This type of patent is defined by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) as one that is "issued for the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter". The second type of patent is a Design Patent. A Design Patent is defined by the PTO as one that is "issued for a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture". The third type of patent you might collect is a Plant Patent. A Plant Patent is defined by the PTO as one that is "issued for a new and distinct, invented or discovered asexually reproduced living plant organism".
Step 2 - Search existing patents
Once you determine the type of patent to collect, you must conduct an extensive search of existing patents to confirm that your idea has not already been patented, and that no other individual is in the process of collecting a patent for your idea. It is recommended that you hire the services of a patent attorney or agent at this time to assist with the process. It is possible for you to conduct the search on your own through various resources. Existing patent information is available in several formats, depending on the age of the existing patents. Some are available only on microfilm, or in print. More recent patents can be viewed online on the U.S. PTO website at uspto.gov.
Step 3 - Complete the application for your patent
Forms are available for download via the U.S. PTO website listed above. Depending on the type of patent you wish to collect, your application might include a summary of the invention, any claims you are making pertaining to the use of your invention, a complex drawing depicting your invention, and perhaps the best method you have determined for creating your invention. As part of the application process, you must also pay any associated fees at this time.
Collecting a patent is a long and often arduous task. The current average processing time of a U.S. patent is 2 ½ years. Attention to detail and persistence will prove key to your success.