There are three ways to patent an invention: agent, attorney, or self-representation.

A patent attorney is directly involved with all aspects of an application, from working with consultants to communication with the federal government. He/she represents the client in a legal capacity to handle all matters on the inventor’s behalf, such as signing documents. Fees are based on this time commitment.

Self-representation is the preferred alternative for many individual inventors. If you are willing to prepare drawings yourself and perform a patent search, then the financial savings would enable you to devote more funds to marketing the product. You are in complete control of the entire process.

A Patent agent combines the benefits of an attorney, consultant, and self-representation. Even if you intend to work without an attorney, you probably bought some books or software, and browsed the Internet for helpful advice.

InventHelp is a consulting company that assists inventors with technical drawings, searches, and organizing information for the application as you can see from

The initial cost of submitting an application to the USPTO consists of three parts: search ($270), examination ($110), and filing fee ($165). If approved, the initial payment is $755 to issue the patent (Based on government fees as of December 17, 2008).

Patents last for 20 years, if renewed. The first period ends in 3.5 years. If you don’t renew, your rights will expire. Commercial feasibility during the first few years usually determines whether renewing a patent is financially practical.

The renewal fee in 3.5 years is $490. The second period is in 7.5 years for $1,240. The last renewal is in 11.5 years for $2,055.

The fees assume that you are an eligible private individual or small business. Otherwise, the fees are double. There may be additional fees throughout the process in addition to the primary application and renewal costs.

The Search

The federal government has the resources to find a vast amount of information that not even an experienced professional can locate. Examiners are assigned to categories of applications based on technical expertise. They have onsite access to over 17,000 scientific, technical, business, and general periodical titles.

You will receive a search report with detailed explanations and comparisons of your invention to existing patents and publications. Classifications used to search patent databases will be listed. An Internet search may determine whether there are any matching keywords or concepts. Similar products may be posted on websites, such as eBay, Amazon, and commercial networks.

A search will not locate every website on the Internet, or each article ever published. However, the report will list enough information to make an informed decision whether the idea is new. One benefit of the search is to “work around” existing ideas, concepts, and products by adapting or modifying your invention by finding a way that “has never been done”.

The Drawings

The USPTO has strict guidelines for technical drawings that must be followed when submitting an application. Drawings that do not conform to these standards may be rejected.

The Claims

Descriptions and definitions define your invention. The claims should fully describe what you intend to protect. The biggest risk is whether your claims will stop infringement when analyzed and criticized in a courtroom. Patent lawyer will review your invention and assist with drafting claims that fully describe the technical aspects.

The Application

Your idea will be transformed from conceptual or physical form into a written format that corresponds to the USPTO recommended structure. For instance, you may have ten drawings. The application requires a description of how the images are used in the written description. Or, you have a specific reason why the invention is useful. First and foremost, the application must completely explain and describe all details of the invention so that an average person with similar skills would understand how to build and use your idea. It is all very well explained on

Infringement Searches

Now that you have a patent, what comes next? An infringement search will compare potentially infringing products to determine whether the two items are similar.

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