How Do I Know If My Idea is Already Patented?
So, you have a great idea that you think is destined to change the world, and you’re thinking about protecting it with a patent. But where do you start?
The first step in the patent process is to find out if your idea is already patented by someone else. If it isn’t, you are eligible to apply for a patent that will give you the exclusive right to your idea and protect you from intellectual property theft.
Keep in mind that few ideas are totally original or unique. However, you have to find out if your idea is different enough from other products already on the market to warrant a patent. You can begin the process by conducting a preliminary patent search on your own.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will grant you patent protection for your idea if it is different enough from other previously patented inventions. But first, you’ll need to conduct a patent search to find out if your idea is “patentable.”
Many inventors use Google Patents to conduct a preliminary patent search. Google Patents is a fast and easy free Google search engine that indexes patents and patent applications and indexes information from 17 patent offices around the world. English translations are available for non-English patents.
Having a basic understanding of the patent search process can help you with applying for one. Let’s take a closer look.
What is a Patent?
Even if your invention is still a thought in your head or a rough back of the napkin sketch, as soon as you find out that your invention is “patentable,” you have to protect it from competitors. A patent is a property right granted to you by the federal government so no one else can make it, use it or sell it – for a limited time. There are different types of patents you can apply for, like design patents, provisional patents, non-provisional patents, and utility patents. Part of the application process includes explaining how your idea is different.
Why Do a Patent Search?
The USPTO will likely reject your idea if it is too similar to other previously patented inventions. Before you take the next steps to design your product, create a prototype, find a manufacturer for your invention and make arrangements for distribution, find out if your idea is already out there. You don’t want to risk patent infringement by moving forward with an idea that is too similar to an idea or a product that is patent-protected. Don’t waste time and resources on a project destined to go nowhere and risk legal consequences. If your idea is not patentable, it’s best to move on to your next big idea.
Partner With a Patent Expert
No one likes to waste time – especially throughout a process like patent research, where inefficiencies can quickly lead to huge expenses. Common mistakes can also lead to a longer patent process than expected.
At Cobalt, we help inventors like you bring their big ideas to life. Partnering with a patent expert can save you time and money by conducting a comprehensive patent search to determine if your idea is “patentable” by the USPTO. Cobalt’s Matching Technology helps you find the exact right expert needed to help you patent your idea.
Following this step-by-step questionnaire in the patent research task of the ideation phase on the Cobalt platform will help you find and hire on-demand patent experts to protect your idea.
If your idea is deemed patentable, you can work with experts on the platform to gain further insight as they guide you through the complicated world of patents.
Cobalt’s idea development platform is the best way to turn ideas into realities. So, what are you waiting for? Go out there and make your ideas a reality. Get your invite at cobalt.co/get-invite to unlock a 30-day free trial!