From Idea to Legal Protection: How to Patent Your Invention and Overview of Patent Types

The creation of a novel idea or an inventive solution is a moment of triumph. Yet, this is just the first step on the path to innovation. The key to transforming this spark into a tangible asset lies in the legal protection offered by patents. Patents empower inventors to secure their ideas, paving the way for financial gain, potential collaborations, and above all, recognition for their inventive acumen.

Patents serve as protective shields, defending an invention from unauthorized usage or reproduction. They effectively become exclusive property rights for inventors, safeguarding their intellectual real estate for a defined period. With the security of one, inventors can proceed with confidence, leveraging their innovation to attract investors, forge business alliances, or even spur further creativity. This secure environment fuels the advancement of technology and society as a whole.

Understanding Patents: An Overview

So, what exactly is a patent? A patent is a legal document granted by a government agency, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It confers an exclusive right to the inventor to manufacture, use, and sell their invention for a set period.

In essence, patents function as incentives for innovation. They encourage research and development by promising exclusive ownership rights, thus contributing to the cycle of technological progress. The global copyright system is the backbone of modern technological growth, underpinning the emergence of cutting-edge technologies and life-altering inventions.

Importance of Patenting Your Invention


The patenting process is not just a formality; it’s a strategic step in the lifecycle of an invention. They provide a tangible assertion of ownership, preventing competitors from copying, manufacturing, or profiting from your innovation without permission. They add a layer of legal protection that deters infringement and fosters fair competition.

Moreover, patents can serve as powerful business tools. They can attract investment and business partners, offering the reassurance that the patented technology is unique and legally protected. In other words, it can transform an invention from a mere idea into a commercial asset.

Steps to Patenting an Invention

Steps to Patenting an Idea

Patenting an invention is a systematic process that entails several stages: conducting research, contacting valuable sources such as InventHelp, drafting a patent application, filing the application, and navigating the examination process. Each stage requires careful preparation and meticulous execution to ensure your invention is adequately protected.

Conducting Prior Art Research

A key aspect of the patenting process is performing a comprehensive search of “prior art”. Prior art refers to any public knowledge related to your invention, including previous patents, scientific literature, or public demonstrations of similar technology. By investigating prior art, you can evaluate the novelty of your invention and anticipate potential obstacles to patentability.

Effective prior art research requires a methodical approach. You can utilize resources such as the USPTO’s patent database, Google Patents, or professional search services. The aim is to uncover any inventions that may be similar to yours, thereby gauging the likelihood of obtaining it.

Drafting a Patent Application

A patent application serves as a blueprint of your invention, providing a detailed description and often including diagrams or drawings. The most crucial part of the application are the claims, which define the scope of its protection.

Crafting a robust patent application is a skill in itself. The language should be precise, the technical details comprehensive, and the claims broad enough to provide protection yet narrow enough to distinguish your invention from prior art. An effective application can significantly streamline the patenting process and enhance the strength of the resulting product.

Filing for a Patent

patent attorney

After preparing your application, the next step is to file it with the appropriate patent office. This involves completing the required forms, paying the associated fees, and, in some cases, providing a prototype or model of your invention.

It’s crucial to be meticulous during the filing process. Errors or omissions can lead to delays or rejection of your application. It may be beneficial to enlist the aid of a patent attorney to ensure accuracy and compliance with all requirements.

Examination Process

Following the submission of your application, the patent office conducts an examination to assess the invention’s novelty, non-obviousness, and usefulness. This involves a thorough review by an examiner, who compares your invention against existing prior art and assesses whether it meets the patentability criteria.

This stage can be lengthy and complex, involving correspondence between the inventor (or their attorney) and the examiner. It’s a critical juncture, determining whether your invention will secure the coveted status of a new innovation.

Types of Patents: Utility, Design, and Plant


Broadly, patents fall into three categories: utility, design, and plant patents. Each caters to a different type of invention and offers a distinct scope of protection.

Utility Patents

Utility patents are the most common type. They cover new and useful processes, machines, articles of manufacture, or compositions of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. These grant protection for 20 years from the date of filing.

The key criteria for obtaining a utility one include novelty, non-obviousness, and usefulness. Your invention must be genuinely new, not just an obvious modification of existing technology, and it must serve a useful purpose.

Design Patents

Design patents protect the aesthetic aspect of an invention. They cover new, original, and ornamental designs embodied in or applied to an article of manufacture. Unlike utility types, design ones do not pertain to the function of an invention, but to its unique appearance.

The duration of protection for design patents is 15 years from the date of grant. The primary criterion for a design patent is originality—the design must be novel and not obvious to a designer in the relevant field.

Plant Patents

Finally, plant patents are granted for the invention and asexual reproduction of a new and distinct variety of plant. This includes mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber-propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.

Plant patents last for 20 years from the date of filing. The criteria include novelty, distinctiveness, and the capability of asexual reproduction.


In the realm of invention and innovation, patenting is a crucial step that cements the inventor’s legal protection over their creation. It offers exclusive rights that not only deter unauthorized use but also transform the invention into a commercial asset.

Remember, patenting an invention is a journey that encompasses stages of prior art research, application drafting, filing, and examination. It demands time, diligence, and the understanding of the different patent types: utility, design, and plant patents. To navigate this journey effectively, don’t hesitate to seek expert advice or legal assistance.