If you ever watched the television show Shark Tank, you know a common question asked of the budding entrepreneurs is whether they have a patent for their invention. It’s a key question for the shark investors to ask, and a possible deal breaker, because the process of filing a patent to protect the intellectual property would significantly impact the invention’s roll out time.

Although the question of how to file a patent may be a straightforward one, unfortunately, the process is a complex and time-consuming one. That’s why many people use a patent service (patent attorney or new product development firm), such as the experts here at Lonestar Patent Services.

Patent services know the process, the type of patent needed, and the key elements for getting a patent. More importantly, a patent service knows how to maneuver through the patent process in a more streamlined and hassle-free way.

The Patent Process

The United States Patent and Trademark Office issues patents and sets forth requirements for the patent filing process. Basically, the process for how to file a patent consists of five main steps.

Step 1: Determine the type of patent you need. The three types of patents are utility, design and plant.

A utility patent applies to a new and original process, manufacturing function, machine, composition of matter, or improvement.

A design patent is issued for new and original ornamental designs that do not perform a function, such as a surface or shape of an item.

A plant patent applies to newly invented or discovered plants, including newly found seedlings, hybrids, plants in a cultivated or uncultivated state and mutants.

Step 2: Determine if your invention qualifies for a patent. The best way to do this is to conduct a patent search of all previously issued patents to see if one already exists for your type of product, process, design, equipment, plant, etc.

Step 3: Consider how you will file. You can file a provisional or non-provisional application.

A provisional application is a fast and inexpensive way to establish a filing date, but the patent pending status expires in one year unless you file a non-provisional application before then.

A non-provisional patent application also establishes your patent application filing date, plus it starts the official examination process.

Step 4: Decide whether you will use professional services to handle the patent application process and proceedings.

Step 5: Prepare and file your initial patent application.

After Filing for a Patent

Once you’ve filed for a patent, expect to wait one to three years to obtain it. Although you’ve filed for one, there’s no guarantee a patent will be granted.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office may reject your filing for a variety of reasons. That’s why it’s highly recommended that patent experts, such as Lonestar Patent Services, guides you through the filing process.

Feel free to contact us if you have an appealing new product idea that warrants patent protection. We’ll not only help you write and file a bulletproof patent application, but also help bring your invention to market!