You Cannot Patent An Idea



You want to patent an idea? Congratulations! You might be the next Edison, Ford or Tesla. All products started with an idea. The trouble is it is not possible to patent an idea. Your idea might be defined as an invention.

An invention is the discovery or creation of a new configuration, composition of matter, device, or process. (1)

Let’s talk about your next step. Your idea is in the first phase of the patent process. This is called conception. The idea is something that is in your mind.

It is important to be able to prove this is your idea. Write down your idea in an inventor’s notebook. The notebook should be stitch bound. A composition book will do. Make sketches and statements explaining your idea.

Have two people sign and witness your notebook. These people should not make any money from your idea. Be sure to have your witness’ sign a nondisclosure form.

Next you will need to demonstrate that your idea really works. This can be done with your patent application or with a working prototype. Prototypes are no longer required for a patent. However they are a great resource for you the inventor.(CLICK ON the Protos & Models Tab)

There are two types of patents; utility and design.

In the United States design patent is a Patent granted on the ornamental design of a functional item(2). A good example of a design patent is a 1915 glass bottle. This is unique shape has become a symbol for Coca Cola®.

A utility patent can be granted for any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter, and improvement on an already existing invention (3). This brief article cannot give you all the tools you need to patent your idea. Some serious work will be required by you. Knowledge is power. To patent an idea I recommend reading “Patent It Yourself” by David Pressman.





You are taking on a task that few people have the courage to do. Before you start shopping for that home in Aspen be aware only one patent in 100 ever makes a profit. I don’t say this to discourage you. I say this to make you aware a patent is not a guarantee of great riches. Be aware many lawyers will be happy to charge $250 per hour to patent your idea. Their billable hours are the only money they ever make.









Footnotes: (1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invention (2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_patent(3) “Profit From Your Idea” by Richard Stim