Saturday, January 24, 2009

Protect Your Ideas - The 411 on Patenting

Do you have an idea so original and unique that you are afraid someone might steal it? You might even be tempted to keep it to yourself and never let it see the light of day. Well, an idea is only as good as what other people think of it. Your idea has no value if you are not exposing it to the real world. It is a fairly simple process to protect your ideas while showing them off to others and possibly making money all the while. It is called patenting and it is an exclusive right that you can have to eliminate others from copying your idea. A patent is in effect for a certain amount of time and it prevents anyone from making, selling or using your invention.

You might have always wondered, "Where do I start?" Little did you know you already began the process when you created your idea. Nice work. Next step is to ask yourself some questions. The first question you must ask yourself is what kind of idea do you have? Is it a process or method, machine, manufacture, composition, or new use? Secondly, ask yourself if your idea will be useful or ornamental? This means that it can have a new use or it can be a new design of an existing invention. Thirdly, is your idea novel? Is it a new and fresh idea that differs from the previous inventions or knowledge? Last but not least, how obvious is your idea? Would someone else easily come up with the same idea? I say that this step is not least, because it is the hardest requirement to fulfill. The less obvious your idea is the more likely it will pass the test.

Here are some tips to establish if your idea is obvious or not. Ask yourself again about the usefulness of your idea. Does it have great potential to be sold commercially? If you believe you have a winning idea then make sure you have evidence to prove it. Act like you already have been rejected and you have to plead your case to why your idea is viable in the marketplace. You will then be ready to back up your idea if need be.

So you still think you have something special? Well, now you need to take a visit to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. This website provides great answers to any additional questions you may still have. You can also file a patent application, pay fees, and search patents. The patent process can take several years to complete. I know this seems like an extremely extensive time to wait, but you do not have to wait. You can start marketing your idea now and its success could make the patent process go faster. Just remember to put "patent pending" on your invention so others know that you are in the process of being patented. This is a precautionary measure to prevent people from taking your idea.

So now that you have stopped coddling your baby, aka your idea, you can let it grow into something big financially. Good luck!

Kelly Abbe has experience in counseling, professional presentations, and business consultation. Her business interests include woman specific recreation apparel and outdoor mentorship programs. Kelly is also currently enrolled in the Master's Degree in Entrepreneurship Program at Western Carolina University. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author's information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2008 by Kelly J. Abbe.

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