How Hard Is It Getting a Patent? What could be tougher than coming up with a breakthrough idea that will change the way people do something? Why, getting the patent office to recognize it, and finding the cash to fund the process, of course! People often think of getting a patent just to prove to the world that their idea is unique and useful; getting a patent though is such a tortuous process that no one would advise doing it unless you can find out for sure if your idea could actually sell for something more than you would actually spend getting the paperwork done. Once you satisfy yourself that you could make a killing on this, comes the actual filing process. You need to remember how Einstein once started his career working as a patent clerk in Switzerland, admitting or dismissing patent applications: you would not want to be filing your patent in that office now would you? Not to scare anyone, but this does bring up an important point. A patent really is looked over by beady-eyed sleuths, scientific minds that find no pleasure quite as satisfying as finding how an application is not as unique as it claims, and then throwing it out. To help your case, the best way to go about it would be to provide them with as much deep and insightful technical detail on your invention as possible. This is no time to be hiding anything from them to protect your invention. You need to be sure to include evidence, explanations for technical people and layperson , drawings, papers, research findings and everything else. Get a witness to testify in writing that everything in there makes sense to him, and you should be on your way to getting a patent. And now for the money part: people often hire a patent attorney for the shoe leather; but you could work for yourself getting a patent and save quite a bit seeing as how hiring an attorney can cost a couple hundred dollars per billable hour. If you were to do it yourself you would only pay the patent office a minimum fee: the patent office usually gives the individual inventor or nonprofit a break by charging no more than $150 in filing fees. The big boys need to pay twice as much. Once the filing is over with there is the examination fee, usually a couple of hundred dollars to keep the patent examiner warm, and a similar amount in search fees to help him sift through other patents to make sure you haven't just slapped a new coat of paint on someone else's invention. The process itself can take an year or two. What could help your case though? If you could knock together a working model of your idea that would really help. Isn't there a way to improvise and get it done for less though? There is: what you need is some kind of proof that your design or idea existed on a particular date; if someone gets the bright idea to copy your creation, you need some kind of proof that your idea existed previously. It's pretty simple actually; you just print all the details of your idea that you can fit on a USPS postcard. You send it yourself, and it arrives one day with a dated postal stamp on top of your printed idea. This proves pretty thoroughly that your idea existed first. It isn't really a patent, but it will certainly help you to drag anyone else to court should they claim they were first.
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