This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #StartingABusiness
Now that you have all of the kinks worked out of your design, it’s finally time to file a patent. There are two main patents you will have to choose from: a utility patent (for new processes or machines) or a design patent (for manufacturing new, non-obvious ornamental designs). You can write the patent and fill out the application yourself, but do not file it yourself until you have had a skilled patent professional look it over first. If the invention is really valuable, someone will infringe on it. If you do not have a strong patent written by a patent attorney or agent, you will be pulling your hair out later when a competitor finds a loophole that allows them to copy your idea. It’s best to get legal help now to avoid any legal problems in the future.
Follow these steps to help you choose the best patent professional.
1. Do your homework. Have your inventor’s journal, prototype and notes with you. This will save them time and you money. This will also help persuade them to work with you.
2. Make sure they are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
3. Ask them what their technical background is. If your invention is electronic, find a patent professional who is also an electrical engineer.
4. Discuss fees. Keep your focus on smaller patent firms. They are less expensive and will work more closely with you. Agree to the estimated total cost before hiring your patent professional.