Some may think that brilliant men like Thomas Edison and Nicolai Tesla are rare these days but I know better. As a matter of fact I have a friend who is a certifiable genius inventor, inventing things like an engine that runs on tap water and a device that increases gas mileage by nearly 40%. The thing that the average person doesn't realize is that the inventions generally do not come about as the result of a "eureka" moment with a light bulb image over their head! Real inventions come about from testing and experimentation and finding all of the methods that don't work before finding the one that does.
I had a great idea about 20 years ago to sell bottled water, all my friends told me I was out of my mind. I listened to them and now someone is a billionaire and I am not. I am writing this article to make sure you don't make the same mistake.
If you happen to have one of those flashes of brilliance and you put together a design or plan for it, make sure it is patented. The correct way to go about this is to use a patent lawyer. Patent lawyers are experts in their field and they can help you file a patent for an invention or an idea.
That's right, it doesn't have to be a physical product, it can be just an idea. Now, don't get carried away and think every idea you have is worth being patented. I am reasonably sure that if you were that brilliant you wouldn't be sitting there reading my article right now! One of the things that you need to consider is whether your idea is marketable. The bottom line is that getting a patent costs money and if your idea isn't going to make money there is no point in going any further. The first step in the process of getting a patent is to have a patent search done to see if indeed your idea is truly as original as you think it is.
You could do it yourself by going to the government website at uspto.gov but a good patent attorney can and will do a much better search and save you a lot of time and aggravation. The next step, assuming that your search indicates that you do have a novel idea worth patenting, is to actually apply for the patent. There are two main types of patents, design and utility. If it is mainly the design that you are concerned with then you should choose that option. If you are more concerned about how the invention will function, then apply for a utility patent.
There is also the consideration of how long you are protected. A utility patent is good for twenty years, while a design patent only lasts fourteen. Obtaining a patent is not exactly inexpensive and you will have to come up with a good bit of money at the very beginning.
However it may well be worth it. There are fees to the lawyer as well as filing fees to pay the government for applying for the patent. This is why it is so crucial that you do your research and make sure that the idea is something that can be profitable in the marketplace. In any case don't go it alone, always seek out the professional help of a qualified patent lawyer. A good patent attorney will save you time, energy and many sleepless nights.
Gregg Hall is an author living in Navarre Beach, Florida. Find more about this as well as patent attorneys at http://www.focusonip.com