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File your own patent application
"There are always people who will spend any amount of time to save money, and there are other people who will spend money in order to save time."
If you want to save time, a precious resource, for important things like building your business, hire a lawyer to prepare and file a patent application.
If you want to save money, and are prepared to spend some time to prepare and file your own patent application, then continue reading.....

1. Conduct a prior art search
2. Drafting a Patent Application

3. Filing a New Application OnLine

Before you begin...

At one point or another, many people have an idea for an invention. But some people will proceed to devote their time and creative ingenuity to produce something concrete which they believe may have commercial value. At some point it becomes important to decide whether the proposed invention has enough potential to warrant further research. Read this article
Monetizing an invention:  License or 'make and sell'
Assuming that enough research has been done into the possible commercial value of the invention, and the early results are positive, the next step should be to conduct a search for prior art.

1. Conduct a prior art search
This is important for 2 reasons: ~
1. You must know where you stand relative to the current state of the art, and 
2. If you are going to prepare and file your own patent application, having copies of closely related patent documents available is invaluable for creating your application documentation. The drawings, the written description, and most important, the claims, will be of enormous help.

You can use these documents as a template for preparing your own application. Do not be intimidated by the convoluted archaic writing styles in the prior art documents. They were prepared by lawyers, in accordance with outdated rules and traditions. They are simply designed to impress and intimidate the uninitiated. You cannot change the rules to suit your own writing style. But it does not take an Einstein to learn to imitate these styles and compose a manuscript that will impress the legal profession. Drill through the run-on verbiage to understand the underlying concepts. You'll be able to imitate the writing style when drafting your own patent application later on.

In the days before the internet, conducting a patent search was hard to do. People had few options other than to hire a patent attorney. This IP professional would have close relationships with representatives residing in Washington DC. The job was to communicate the client's invention to the representative via post and telephone. The rep would then go to the patent office library and conduct a search using microphiche records. The results would then be relayed to the local attorney, who would then prepare a  patentability opinion on the basis of the results. This was obviously a long drawn-out task worth every penny of the attorney fees passed on to the client.

Nowadays, such a rigamarole is no longer required. Conducting your own patent search on the internet is
a piece of cake. You can usually do it in an afternoon using the USPTO search records, Google Patents, or even international patent databases such as WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). Preparing a patentability opinion (i.e. determining the likelihood of being granted a patent) is another matter, and will be discussed later.

Using these global tools, you will be able to read and download all the prior art documents you need, and more, to guide you in preparing your own patent application. There are various kinds of search strategies available. Some IP professionals warn about doing cursary searches that may miss important prior art which may impact your ability to obtain a patent, or potentially more harmful, obtain a patent, but have that patent challenged in court as being invalid. Generally speaking, being bogged down by concerns over such downside disasters can take the wind out of the sails of any start-up enterprise. There are no certainties in this field, regardless of how much cash you choose to invest in legal opinions. The legal arena of IP law is very much like the bygone days of the wild west. It is a gold mine of opportunity for the IP professional. But all the risks are borne by the inventor/entrepreneur. One might spend half a lifetime performing prior art searches, yet end up missing an all-important piece of prior art which may or may not invalitate a patent, or prevent a patent from being issued. Worst of all, you may be possibly wasting your resources on a product which no one cares to buy.

It simply adds to the fact that the patent system in its current state is filled with more worm-holes than a garden patch in spring. My own rule-of-thumb is to do your best, given your time and money constraints, then proceed to concentrate on the stuff that is really important - the product, its potential value, and how best to bring it to market.
This is the Link to the USPTO search site:

Below are a few key points for conducting a patent search provided by the USPTO

A search can start by using the Quick Search option. This allows you to combine words and phrases that represent the field of search as closely as possible, searching in various places like the title, abstract, or specification, to locate representative patents. After repeating this process several times, searching through the list of patents to find those best representing your invention, you can select a few that are a good match. You may then select the class or classes and subclasses they represent, and proceed to serach within these subclasses to further narrow the search. When you find the patents that are most closely related to your invention, you can search the text of each patent for content which resembles your concepts.

Your objective should be to get a good feel for the classes and subclasses in the area into which your invention falls. It may well be that the subject matter is spread over multiple classes in the USPTO classification system. Doing an exhaustive search can be a tedious and time cosuming task. Sometimes a good sampling of closely related patents can do the trick in providing not just a feel for the state of the prior art, but also a template to use for preparing your own application.  My personal bottom line is that you will always be in a state of uncertainty to one degree or another. Hence, you should optimize your search task relative to your objectives, gain an understanding about the art in your field of search, and make your decision as to if and how to proceed with your application.

One other thing... suppose that you uncover prior art that is a dead ringer for what you thought was your original invention. You will likely feel crushed and defeated. If you are a true innovator, you will likely walk away from the original project and begin afresh, or you may come up with an improved version of the original idea and renew your effort along this new path. On the other hand, if you are more inclined to risk taking, you should be aware that patent law is far from being a perfect solution to the granting of intellectual property rights. The patent examiner who will be charged with determining the fate of your patent applicatin is only human, and sub ject to quota systems at that. There is an array of tricks at your disposal to improve your chance for being granted your patent. So if your objective is to have a patent granted, with no concern about its scope or ultimate validity, you may want to learn more about the various ways in which the Ip professional can satisfy the client's request for a patent that may ultimately prove to be worthless.

2.   Drafting a Patent Application

Before plunging into this task, take a step back and assess your options. Assuming that your invention falls into the category of "utility", you have the options of filing a full utility application, or a provisional application.
A provisional application is nothing more than a full utility application absent of the claims.
A provisional application is much simpler to prepare, to file, and costs much less than a non-provisional application. In addition, a provisional application can be abandoned with little downside if the invention bombs.
A provisional application incentivizes a prospective licencee to licence your invention because it provides the flexibility of modifying the final product to better fit the needs of the licencee. For all these reasons, many attorneys prefer filing a provisional application as a first step in the process. Although some practitiones suggest preparing a provisional application using rough pencil sketches and somewhat crude verbal descriptions, it is considered good practice to prepare a full formal utility application, less claims for filing in the patent office. What makes a provisional application attractive is its status as a placeholder, giving you an all-important priority date. The provisional application is never examined by anyone in the patent office, but just sits there waiting for one year from the filing date. It then becomes abandoned, and you lose your priority rights, unless you file a full utility application claiming priority from the provisional application. An abandoned provisional application is kept confidential in USPTO files and never made public. Hence, the essence of the invention will not enter the public domain.
The provisional application does not require any claims to be filed, but only a set of drawings and disclosure (the description of the invention). Thus, it is much easier to prepare and to file. It also extends the life of your patent by a full year. Above all, it gives you the flexibility to come up with improvements which can later be added (without the priority date) in your formal utilty application. in addition, should you intend to licence your patent to a company, it allows the licencee the privilege of adding improvements, and also to file worlwide applications based upon the original
provisional application.

A patent application includes these basic components: 

  • Written specification
  • A set of drawings 
  • Formal application forms, which can be downloaded from the USPTO web site.


The following is a  listing of the sections required in a patent application . Each section is identified by  its heading in the body of the application.

Title of the Invention

A descriptive word or phrase by which the invention will be referenced


The description of the invention that appears on the cover of the published patent

Background of the Invention

The problems, prior attempts at solutions which the invention overcomes

Summary of the Invention

Introductory section that precedes the detailed description

Brief Description of the Drawings

Identification of each drawing figure by number and capsule description

Detailed Description

Full and complete specification referencing each drawing figure and each numbered element


Formalized statements defining the subject matter having exclusive rights attached


Graphic illustrations depicting the invention, as needed for providing  clarity in the written specification

Patent drawings are an essential component for just about any kind of utility patent application. The USPTO classification system lists   major classes and     subclasses. For anyone new to the patent system, it may be useful to browse through the patent classes in order to develop some basic familiarity with the patent system.

Preparing  the Specification

1. Prepare a rough sketch showing the essential parts and features of your invention. If it is an electrnics or software invention, use block diagrams or a flowchart. Sketch a series of doodles illustrating how the parts interact. Remove any non-essential components and draw the skeletal or stripped-down version.


2. Identify the invention with a descriptive title, e.g. "Pivotable laptop Stand" and each part with a name and a number. Use balloon drawings with arrows to provide clear visual cues.

 Drawing styles illustrating two basic utility patent concepts:

(a) Machine or Object                                                        (b) Process or Method



3. Filing a New Application OnLine

Documents for filing a Provisional Patent Application 

The USPTO (like any of the other national patent offices) is a stickler for exactness in all the formalities that are part of a patent application.  You should study the examples of documentation which are presented in these pages, and other examples found online.

Your invention will be documented in these components which form part of your application:

Title of the invention

Abstract: A brief overview of the technical disclosure in the specification not exceeding 150 words in length.

Specification: The written description of the invention. The specification is comprised of the following sub-categories:

Claim(s): One or more claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which the applicant regards as the invention.

Drawings: Any drawing required under 37 CFR 1.81(a) See 37 CFR 1.53(b)

After you have prepared a complete set of documents in the correct format, convert them to PDF format. This is simple if you have a wordprocessig program like Microsot Word on your computer.

Practically every bit of communication with the USPTO requires submission of a corresponding form. You can download most forms here

Launch EFS-Web


Two options are available:

Begin by entering basic information about yourself and your application.
Proceed to upload your documents.
Calculate and pay the fees - you ca use your credit card
Receive a receipt, and you're done,


copyright 2015-16 All Rights Reserved.   The contents of this website are solely the opinions of the author or provided as illustrative examples, and are not intended to be taken as legal opinions, nor to be considered to be applicable to any particular case. These contents are provided without warranty for accuracy or fitness for use. Use of the contents is at the reader's  discretion, and no attorney/client  relationship is established thereby