- Search your product/design exhaustively to make sure it isn’t already patented. People have been known to hire patent search firms for this, but it can easily be done by you with a little time and patience.
- Read the FAQs at the US Patent & Trademark Office until your eyes cross.
- Prepare (or pay someone to prepare – HeyShari did ours) your preliminary application drawings. You can NOT use photographs.
- Print out the online application and think about the questions you’re required to answer. Ownership, definitions…make sure you follow the instructions EXPLICITLY.
- Double check your drawings and save them to PDF, making sure you number them or title them in order.
- Pull up the online application and start your engines.
- Upload your PDFs.
- Pay the application fee (use a credit card to ensure immediate filing) and print out your confirmation sheet.
- Start putting your “US Patent Pending” number on all your print items.
- Mark your calendar for six (6) months into the future – this is when you need to start searching for a patent attorney to assist you in filing the FULL Patent Application. You ONLY have one year from the date of initial filing, otherwise you lose the opportunity to patent your product/design; however, no one else can patent it, either.
Once I had the drawings ready, it took me thirty minutes from beginning to end. It’s the next step that I’m dreading…J