A Beginner's Guide to Getting a Patent
If you've ever had an idea for an invention or new product you might have thought about ways to protect your idea from being stolen by somebody else. A patent is a document that provides you with protection for an idea or invention and gives you exclusive rights to exploit your idea. If your patent is granted then if anyone tries to copy or emulate your idea, you can use the full force of the law to uphold the patent and prove that yours was the original idea.
Patents are issues by governments and they are specific to that country. So if you want to do business abroad you must also apply for a patent in those countries too. Applying for a patent can be a long and drawn out process. In principle it is a simple procedure. You go down to your local patent office, pick up an application form, fill it in and wait for the approval. In practice however there are many things that can delay or even prevent you from taking out a patent on your invention.
If your idea is reliably straightforward and easy to explain you may be able to fill in the application by yourself. It does take some research and you have to do your homework but in theory it's achievable. However if your patent application involve complicated theories and can not be easily explained to a layman, then you may have to hire a patent lawyer with specialist knowledge.
This is often the case with advanced software patents which often use a mixture of open source and custom script code. Proving the originality of such a piece of work requires incredibly detailed research and it not for the inexperienced. To give yourself the best chance of your patent application being accepted, you need to document everything. All aspects of the invention process should be written down so that the patent office can see that you've had the initial idea, and followed it through to realization.
You should have diagrams and schematics of all your designs and detailed written descriptions of the purpose of your invention and exactly how it works in step by step detail. If you have the means, you should build a prototype. This is to demonstrate that the product is much more than a concept and has a good chance of being commercially successful. Patents are a necessary evil in today's cut throat world of business. By learning more about the process you will give yourself a better chance of succeeding commercially with your invention.