How to Get a Patent
  • 3-minute read
  • 19th March 2024

How to Get a Patent

In the United States, the US Patent and Trademarks Office issues patents. In the United Kingdom, the Intellectual Property Office issues them. Both bodies are departments of their respective governments. This post will concentrate on US patents.

A patent is a form of intellectual property restricting who can copy your idea. Registering a patent is a complex process that can take a long time, and inventors often use a patent attorney or another form of professional help.

What Type of Intellectual Property Do You Need?

Patents are just one form of intellectual property (often just referred to as IP), so being sure that’s what you actually need is a good idea. The US Patent and Trademarks Office recognizes three types of IP, described below.


A trademark is a word, phrase, or design that identifies your product or service and distinguishes it from others.


A copyright protects intellectual, literary, or artistic works, such as music, books, photos, and software code.


A patent covers technical inventions, such as machinery, mechanical processes, and medicines.

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Five Steps to Getting a Patent

The US Patents and Trademarks Office gives a five-stage process, outlined below.

1. Prepare to Apply 

  • Decide which form of IP you need and whether it should be international.
  • Make sure your invention or idea is actually patentable.
  • Check to ensure that no one has beaten you to your idea and already registered a patent.
  • Decide whether to hire a patent attorney or agent.

2. File Your Application

  • Your patent attorney or agent can do this (if you’ve chosen to hire one).
  • Check the US Patent and Trademarks Office guidance on the detailed legal requirements for filing your application.
  • File your application.

3. Your Patent Application Is Examined

  • This process is known as application prosecution
  • A specialist examiner checks that you’ve met all the requirements.

4. Get Your Patent

  • If the examiner decides you’ve met all the conditions, your patent is issued.
  • Pay the fee.

5. Maintain Your Patent

To retain legal protection of your invention, you must pay maintenance fees over the next few years after your patent has been issued.


Congratulations! You got your patent and can start making your product! 


  1. In the United States, patents are issued by the US Patent and Trademarks Office. Most countries have a similar government department.
  1. The application process can be lengthy and complex, and application forms of any sort may be written in technical language. You may wish to hire a patent attorney or agent to help you.
  1. Do your research and be prepared. As with any complex process, taking time to get everything you need together before you start your application is a good idea.
  1. Make sure your application is complete, clear, and error-free before you submit it.

If you need help with your writing, our editors can make sure any document you produce is the best it can be (though do remember, we’re not legal experts). If you’d like our assistance, get in touch!

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