Patent Process and Invention Timeline to Protect a New Idea

The typical Patent Process and Invention Timeline to Protect a New Idea and to patent a new idea should look something like this:


Of course each invention is different and there is no "one size fits all" or standard invention timeline or patent process but this is fairly typical.   If I was to invent a new device or new software method, here is the process I would follow to patent and commercialize it:

  1. First I would do a patent search as well as a simple Google search for my idea.  I would use as many different keywords as I can to see if anyone else has invented the exact same thing I am working on.  If they have, than I probably would not waste time and money trying to patent it.   If you cannot find the exact same invention or your invention is a little different than what is already out there, than move forward to the next step;
  2. Do market research.  Make sure your idea is more than just a neat invention.  Make sure there are customers (either people or businesses) that are willing to pay money to use your invention or buy/license your patent rights.   If the market is very small or there is not a strong demand for the invention, it may not make business sense to invest time and money into a patent.  Perhaps a trade secret or other forms of IP protection would make better sense.   If there is a large market and demand, then;
  3. Prepare and file a provisional patent.  Our website will show you exactly how to do this.  Timing is very important here and there is some strategy to figure out the best time to file your provisional patent.  In general, I would wait until the last possible day to file my patent because once I do the 12-month time period starts and I want to delay this as long as possible.  See my post called When to File a Provisional Patent for more information on timing;
  4. After you file your provisional patent application, you can use the term "Patent Pending" and start to sell your product or pitch your idea to investors.  Your 12 month clock is also ticking so use this time wisely.  After 12 months is up;
  5. File Non-provisional patent application.   This will cost you thousands of dollars so hopefully by this point you have made some money or attracted some investors to help with these costs.
  6. Make money.  There are lots of ways to make money from your patent application before its granted.  You can:
    1. Sell your product as "patent pending"
    2. License your patent rights to another party (usually for a royalty on sales and an upfront fee)
    3. Sell your patent rights to another party
  7. Prosecute your patent at the USPTO and get get an allowed patent with a patent number.  At this point you can mark your product with its patent number.  You can now use your patent to sue anyone who is copying your idea and stop them from competing with you.

Patent Process and Invention Timeline

This is just a very rough example or a Patent Process and Invention Timeline to Protect a New Idea.  Different technolgies and different business conditions will dictate the best startegy and approach to protect your idea and ultimately generate income from it.

My unique background as a successful entrepreneur, MBA, patent agent, and certified licensing professional (CLP) allows me to help you determine the best stategy that makes sense for patenting and commercializing your invention.  Check out my services page.


Next Reading:  What is a provisional patent application?