Patent Step One
A search of the Patent Office records should preferably be made by a qualified searcher to determine if the invention has been previously disclosed or patented.
Patent Step Two
An application clearly explaining and claiming the invention must be prepared and filed at the Patent and Trademark Office.
Patent Step Three
After a period of several months to a few years, the application will be examined by a Patent Office Examiner. The Examiner will search the Patent Office records and then, depending on the findings, may present arguments against the grant of the patent. These arguments must be responded to and the Examiner’s objections overcome before a patent may be granted. The period of objection by the Examiner and response by the Applicant may take a year or two to be completed.
Patent Step Four
If the patent is allowed, an issue fee must first be paid. The Official Letters Patent will then be forwarded to the owner of the patent.
Maintenance fees must be paid 3.5, 7.5, and 11 years after issue to keep the patent in force. If maintenance fees are not paid, the patent will automatically expire.
Why file for patent protection?
If you are in the business and if you have come up with a novel, non-obvious invention that could revolutionize your industry, the last thing you want to do is give that information to your competitors. What if your competitors could not use your information for the next 20 years unless they paid you for the privilege? What if they could not manufacture, sell or import products that would compete with your invention? This is what a patent offers to your company!