General Question

pcmonkey's avatar

To patent an idea, do you need to make a prototype?

Asked by pcmonkey (427points) July 29th, 2012 from iPhone

I have a really great idea for an idea but I’m only 15 and haven’t had any college education on how to build any kind of prototype. With technology as the fastest growing industry, I’m afraid my idea will be stolen before Im 18. However, there is no age requirements on getting a patent. I have enough money (me and parents combined) to hire a lawyer and anything else I need to complete the process. So, I was just wondering, do you have to make a prototype of your invention before it gets patented or can I get a patent on the idea itself? And if you could, please explain the process of getting a patent. Thanks to anyone who can help!

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10 Answers

Judi's avatar

Maybe you should hire the attorney to tell you what you need to get the patent.

funkdaddy's avatar

Technically you don’t need a prototype, but you need to have enough details worked out that you could actually build one in order to get a patent.

For example: You can’t just say you want to build a toaster with a light inside, you have to be able to describe what kind of light source you would use, where it would draw power, where you would mount it so it didn’t fail due to the heat of the toaster and exactly what kind of toaster you’re starting with.

Then you’d need plans where someone could theoretically build your toaster, and the hope that no one has beaten you to the punch and either already built a toaster with a light in it, or patented the idea.

Even if you don’t have those things now, go for it. The process will be educational all around. Here’s some quick links I pulled from the internet that might be helpful.

Protecting Ideas: Can ideas be protected or pantented?
Getting a Patent on Your Own – Even if you end up getting an attorney, it’s probably good to understand the process initially
Some guidelines for what can be patented – linked in the article above, but this gets straight to what is and isn’t eligible for a patent
The US Patent and Trademark Office (I’m assuming you’re in the US, apologies if not) – is especially interesting because it will list some of the fees associated with maintaining a patent.

There are attorneys that specialize in patent law, but they’re expensive, do your research and that knowledge is something you can use for all your future inventions as well.

pcmonkey's avatar

@funkdaddy thank you so much! I know you said be technical but how technical? Do I have to put how long each side and each piece would be in inches? Centimeters? And also, how do you submit a patent? Do you write in a letter? Sorry if I sound completely clueless (which I am) but I have not had any education in business whatsoever. Thank you so again for your previous information.

funkdaddy's avatar

It would depend a lot on what it is. Maybe it would be best to check out some patent applications from others to get an idea?

Google has a great patent search where you can type in just about anything and see quite a few related patent applications.

That way you have a final target as well.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

All you need is a complete set of blueprints to apply. Those blueprints need to include EVERYTHING. From the electrical wiring to the material the body of the device is made of. That’s just to GET an application for tthe patent. From there on you need a lawer.

jerv's avatar

Yes, you need a blueprint. Inches or metric doesn’t matter.

You also need all of the details about it. If there are any processes or moving parts, you need to detail how they operate and what they do.

I know of a few people who have gotten patents without lawyers, but they were people who are highly familiar with the process and could probably be patent lawyers themselves. For those that are not as process-oriented and/or familiar with the whole process, a lawyer is highly recommended.

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Bill1939's avatar

On line store?

gailcalled's avatar

Here’s the patent my grandfather, Ben Finkel the first, got on his self-opening and eye-poking umbrella frame in 1894. It is essentially the blue print for the gadget.

flutherother's avatar

The first thing you can do is carry out a search of the patent literature to see if your idea is in fact original. If something similar has already been patented you may not be able to patent your invention. This is something a patent lawyer will do if you go ahead and apply but he will charge.

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