Getting a patent is a long and expensive process that requires many steps. As with any major undertaking, it’s best to understand the process before you begin.

First-time inventors have many questions about patents, such as:

What is an invention idea?

How do I patent my idea?

Is my invention eligible for a patent?

What are the costs associated with getting a patent?

Let’s take a look at each of these questions in detail below.

What Is An Invention Idea?

An invention idea is a new and useful process, machine or product that may be patented. It can be described in many ways, such as a product, software program or even a method of doing something.

For example, if you came up with a new way to make your favorite recipe more efficient or delicious, you could consider this your invention idea. You might also have an idea for a product that solves a common problem, such as a new type of smartphone case that protects against drops and scratches. In some cases, invention ideas are not patentable because they are too simple or obvious — those are called “prior art” and cannot be patented.

A patentable idea must be novel (“new and useful”), non-obvious to a person with ordinary skill in your field, and possess utility (for example, it needs to work). A patent can protect your idea from being copied by others for up to 20 years.

The patent process is not easy to navigate, and it can be expensive. You should consult with a patent attorney or agency, such as Invent Help, to determine whether your idea has commercial potential and whether a patent would be appropriate for your situation.

The first step in the patent process is to file a provisional application with the USPTO. This will give you a year to secure an attorney and file a non-provisional application that includes all of your supporting documentation. As part of this process, you will have to prepare and submit drawings, diagrams, schematics and other visual aids that illustrate how your invention works.

You can also choose to hire a designer or illustrator to create these graphics, but be sure that they are well-versed in the patent process so they know how to depict your invention accurately. You should also include detailed information about what makes your invention unique and why it is not obvious.

If you are not sure what to include in your patent application, it is best to consult with a patent professional, such as InventHelp agency or attorney. This will ensure that all of the necessary information is included and that it will be presented in the most compelling way possible.