So you have an idea and want to file a patent application? Whether you are going to attempt to pursue your patent dreams on your own without the help of a patent practitioner, or whether you will hire a patent attorney or agent to represent you, there are a number of things that you absolutely need to know about the invention and patent process that can help you focus your efforts. Great dividends are paid by understanding the obstacles lay in front of you, the pitfalls that have snared unsuspecting inventors in the past, and the many nuances required by case law and statutes. In short, on the road from invention to patent, the better informed you are the better inventor you will become and the more meaningful help you will be able to provide your team.
This page and website contain detailed information to help inventors on the road from invention to patent. Our goal is to educate you, make you a knowledgeable consumer and to save you from those unscrupulous invention promotion companies who would tell you that you can patent an idea. You cannot patent an idea, but there are ways to move from idea to patent in an appropriate manner. These and other important topics are explained throughout our website. We literally have hundreds of articles on everything from basic patent law, to the invention process, to preparing a patent application, and to licensing your invention and making money, which really is the goal.
Below are a sampling of inventor help links to specific patent and invention related information throughout our website. As you read these articles you will invariably come across links to other articles of interest, which you can and really should read. While I believe inventors should take the time to read all of the pages throughout IPWatchdog.com, I have gone through the IPWatchdog.com archives and created several “reading assignments,” which will hopefully make the task of figuring out where to start more manageable, and which will help get you started. I recommend you do them in this order (i.e., starting with Reading Assignment 1), but if you find something that you just need to know then by all means jump ahead. You can also visit our Inventor Education Archive as well.
As you read the articles you will find links to other articles on related topics, but you can always come back to this article as necessary. You can also sign-up for our daily newsletter, or visit us on Saturdays, which is typically when we publish a new article every week aimed at inventors and those new to the industry.
For information on drafting a provisional patent application yourself please see our do-it-yourself patent system called the Invent + Patent System.
Good luck and enjoy!
Reading Assignment 1 — Getting Started
- Protecting Ideas: Can Ideas Be Protected or Patented?
- Every Invention Starts with an Idea
- Moving from Idea to Patent – When Do You Have an Invention?
- Inventing 101: Protecting Your Invention When You Need Help
- Why Do You Want a Patent?
- Starting the Patent Process on a Limited Budget
- Top 5 Mistakes Inventors Make
- Keep Your Money in Your Wallet Until Proof of Concept
- The Patent Process on a Tight but Realistic Budget
- Inventing to Solve Problems
- A beginner’s guide to patents and the patent process
Reading Assignment 2 — Moving Forward with Your Invention
- Invention Promotion Companies
- The Successful Inventor: Patenting Improvements
- The Business Responsible Approach to Inventing
- Patent Searching 101: A Patent Search Tutorial
- Patent Searches: A Great Opportunity to Focus on What is Unique
- When should you do a Patent Search?
- Identifying the Patentable Feature
- Confidentiality Agreements (see also Trade Secrets below)
- Inventing Strategy 101: Laying the Foundation for Business Success
Reading Assignment 3 — Basic Patent Law
- What is a patent and where do patent rights come from?
- What is a Utility Patent?
- Do You Need a Patent?
- Patentability Overview: When can an invention be patented?
- A Brave New Patent World – First to File Becomes Law
- First to File Means File First! The Risk of Not Immediately Filing a Patent Application
- Understanding Obviousness: John Deere and the Basics
- When is an Invention Obvious?
- The Benefits of a Provisional Patent Application
- Provisional Patents: What are they and why do you need them?
- Good, Bad & Ugly: Truth About Provisional Patent Applications
- Can I Refile A Provisional Patent Application?
- I Can’t Find Prior Art for My Invention
Reading Assignment 4 — Patent Applications
- An Overview of the U.S. Patent Process
- PCT Basics: Obtaining Patent Rights Around the World
- Cost of Obtaining a Patent
- Applying for a Patent in the U.S.
- Non-provisional Utility Patent Applications – Content & Substance
- Defining the Full Glory of Your Invention in a Patent Application
- Patent Drafting 101: The Basics of Describing Your Invention in a Patent Application
- Patent Illustrations and Invention Drawings, What do you Need?
- Working with patent Drawings to Create a Complete Disclosure
- Patent Drawings 101: The Way to Better Patent Applications
- Patent Drawings: An Economical Way to Expand Disclosure
- How to Describe an Invention in a Patent Application
- Patent Drafting for Beginners: The anatomy of a patent claim
- Patent Drafting: Learning from common patent application mistakes
- An Introduction to Patent Claims
- Patent Claim Drafting 101: The Basics
- Understanding Patent Claims
- Drafting Patent Applications: Writing Method Claims
Reading Assignment 5 — Making Money with your Invention
- Plausibly Estimating the Market for Your Invention
- A Better Mouse Trap: Patents and the Road to Riches
- Should I File a Patent Before Licensing the Invention?
- Getting Your Invention to Market: Licensing vs. Manufacturing
- Drafting a Licensing Agreement, A Patentee Perspective
- Converting Your Invention into Dollars and Cents
- Beat the Odds: How to Get Your Invention Licensed
- A Limited Run: Testing the Market Without Going Broke
- One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine
- How do you know if you have a licensable product?
- Sell Your Ideas With or Without a Patent
Reading Assignment 6 — Design Patents
- Design patents: The Under Utilized and Overlooked Patent
- Design Patents 101: Protecting Appearance Not Function
- A Brief History of Design Patents
- Hoverboard raid at CES the result of effective patent enforcement (of a design patent!)
Reading Assignment 7 — Trade Secrets & Confidentiality
- What is a Trade Secret?
- Protecting a Trade Secret: Taking Precautions to Preserve Secrecy
- The Trade Secret Value Proposition: The Secrecy Requirement
- Sample Confidentiality Agreements
- Justified Paranoia: Confidentiality Before and After Patent Filings
Reading Assignment 8 — Software Related Inventions
- A Guide to Patenting Software: Getting Started
- Software Patents: What Level of Description is Required
- Writing Software Patent Applications
- Patenting Business Methods and Software Requires Concrete, Tangible Description
- Software Patents and Murphy’s Law: Uncertainty is Where Patentability Resides
- Defining Computer Related Inventions in a post-Alice World
- Patenting business methods and software still requires concrete and tangible descriptions
Reading Assignment 9 — More Advanced Topics
- Patent Strategy: 6 strategies for obtaining a patent quickly
- Patent Prosecution 101: Understanding Patent Examiner Rejections
- Patent Strategy: Advanced Patent Claim Drafting for Inventors
- Understanding the Patent Process: Rejections vs. Objections
- Patent Drafting: the Use of Relative Terminology Can Be Dangerous
- Patent Application Drafting: Ambiguity and Assumptions are the Enemy
- Define terms when drafting patent applications, be your own lexicographer