How do I apply for a patent?

Inventors may apply for one of two types of patent applications:

(1) A nonprovisional application, which begins the examination process and may lead to a patent; and

(2) A provisional application, which establishes a filing date but does not begin the examination process.

How do I know if my invention is patentable?

First, a patent attorney can provide a list of what can and cannot be patented and determine if your invention falls into one of those categories.

A search is conducted of all previous disclosures including, but not limited to previously patented inventions in the U.S. (prior art) should be conducted to determine if your invention has been publicly disclosed and thus is not patentable. A search of foreign patents and printed publications should also be conducted. While a search of the prior art before the filing of an application is not required, it is advisable to do so. A registered attorney or agent is often a useful resource for performance of a patentability search. After an application is filed, the USPTO will conduct a search as part of the official examination process. Conducting a thorough patent search is difficult, particularly for the novice.