Image by Morgan Housel

PROFITING FROM YOUR INVENTION

A patent permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, selling or offering for sale the patented invention for the term of the patent.

First Steps:

Record your inventive process
Establish an invention date
Maintain confidentiality
Avoid “invention companies” – see Inventor Fraud
Determine marketability

Patent Protection

Identify the subject matter of the invention 
Determine if a patent is needed or desirable 
Determine the type of patent needed – utility, provisional, design, or plant

Patent Process

Search prior art for usefulness, novelty and non-obviousness
File patent application –provisional or non-provisional
File Foreign applications 
Receive office action
Respond to office action or abandon application
Receive allowance or final rejection
Pay Issue fee or appeal final rejection
Pay periodic maintenance fees to renew patent for up to 20 years from filing

Profiting from Your Idea

License the patent to one or more licensees
Sell the patent rights to a third party
Sell the patented product yourself by either: manufacturing the patent product, or
contracting with a third party to manufacture the patented product for you

The American Intellectual Property Law Association has an excellent pamphlet that explains the entire patent process, what a patent is, and what a patent is not. The AIPLA pamphlet is available for download.