Defending Your Business

Inventor Basics: 4 Tips For Obtaining A Patent

The easiest part of inventing a new product is coming up with the idea. Once you have a solid idea for a new and innovative product, you'll encounter the hard part: protecting it. Fortunately, you can use a patent or a provisional patent to help protect your idea from being stolen or used elsewhere. While obtaining a patent is difficult, you can make it easier with these four tips:

1. Ensure Your Idea is Truly Original

Before you even begin to file for a patent, you must be absolutely certain that your idea doesn't already exist. You can do this by searching the internet for similar products and prototypes. You can also ask around your target market to see if they use anything that might solve the same problem. If your idea is truly original, then proceed for a patent. If it is similar to another product, you might still be able to obtain a patent; however, you will need to talk to a patent attorney.

2. Build a Prototype

If you can, you should build a prototype for your product. While it isn't necessary, it can be very helpful. A prototype will allow you to see any flaws in your design. It will also allow you to see variations in your design, which you can also protect with a patent—so that others don't build a similar product.

3. Have a Nondisclosure Agreement

If you plan to talk about your invention or show it to anyone, you must have a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) in place. These agreements will ensure that whoever sees or hears of your invention cannot tell others about it. It will also help protect your invention, by ensuring that these people do not steal your idea. So even if you only plan to show one person, make sure you have them sign an NDA.

4. Determine If You Need Foreign Patents

A U.S. patent will only protect your product in the states. So if you plan to take it or sell it in other countries, make sure you apply for a patent in those countries as well. While it will make the process longer, it is definitely worth it if you plan to sell internationally. Just make sure you determine this early, as it can save you a lot of money if you file international patents in the beginning.

A patent is a handy tool that protects your invention from prying eyes and thieves. If you have come up with a new and innovative idea, keep these tips in mind and contact a patent attorney, to ensure your product remains yours.