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Individuals looking to obtain a patent for a new idea may find themselves disappointed. At present, the idea of something cannot be patented. Instead, individuals must have an invention, something that has actually been produced or used, in order to file for a patent. Ideas themselves cannot be patented, and they cannot be protected by copyright law, either. In order to obtain a patent, individuals must create something new.

Copyright vs Patent

While both of these things protect individuals, their functions are different. Copyrights protect creativity and idea expression rather than products of innovation. Patents are used to protect inventions. Copyright and patent laws exist to help creators protect their intellectual property and ensure there are legal boundaries in place should someone try to claim, steal, or copy their materials.

Patenting an Invention

As stated previously, an idea alone cannot be patented. However, individuals who have actually constructed a new invention (or, in some cases as with biotechnology, discovered a new application of existing technology) may be eligible for a patent. Having an idea is important, but you must get to the invention stage prior to filing for a patent. 

Before applying for a patent, it is important to determine whether a similar or identical patent already exists. Speaking with a patent attorney and searching a patent database are recommended in this task. In fact, one of the best things you can do when looking to obtain a patent for an invention is consult others. You may worry that they may try to steal your idea, so be sure to verify a professional’s credentials prior to meeting with them.

Once you’ve done the above, you will have to go about filing the patent application. Fortunately, you can do so online, though you can also apply via mail or fax if you’d like. 

For individuals looking to obtain a patent, remember that the idea is the first step, and it is arguably one of the most important ones. While you cannot patent an idea itself, honing your thoughts and coming up with a game plan for your idea in order to execute a new invention will be essential for the process of obtaining a patent.