Consultant’s Corner: Filing a Patent


Question: I’d like to file a patent. How do I perform a patent search and complete the process of filing a patent?

Patent Basics

A patent for a product or business process invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor. Patent protection prevents others from using a product or business process invention for commercial purposes without the permission of the inventor. As explained in the information below, there are two basic types of patents: A design patent and a utility patent. A design patent, “protects only the ornamental appearance of an invention, not its utilitarian features.” A utility patent, “would protect the way an article is used and works.”

Before registering a patent, you should familiarize yourself with the patent process and conduct a thorough patent search, which involves more than just a cursory search of similar products available in the marketplace, to confirm the availability of patent protection for your invention. While you can attempt to conduct a patent search on your own, patent and other intellectual property laws are often complex and using a lawyer or patent service may be your best solution to conduct a thorough search and evaluate whether your product idea infringes on another party’s patent. To familiarize yourself with the different types of patents and the patent process you can review information from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and related resources like the following:

What is a Patent |

General Information Concerning Patents |

How to Patent Your New Idea |

The Difference Between a Design Patent and a Utility Patent |

Patent fees and costs:

USPTO Fee Information |

NOLO has a series of articles and publications that provide a good basic tutorial on the patent process and applications, including the process of obtaining a patent on your own:

Patent Laws and Inventions |

Getting a Patent on Your Own |

NOLO also provides a robust guide on self-patenting that is available at an additional cost.

Patent It Yourself |

Patent Search

The patent process can be very expensive; therefore, you may need to conduct a thorough patent search in order to determine that patent protection is available for your product idea. If there are other versions of your product idea on the market, you can initially review the websites, sales materials, product brochures, or other information from the companies that sell those products which may indicate their patent registrations. With this information, you can expedite your search of any patents registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

For detailed suggestions and tips on conducting a patent search, you can review articles and resources like the following:

Seven Step Strategy |

Patent Searching Online |

Bill Wortman

Bill Wortman is the Chief Business Consultant for, with over 40 years of business experience. In addition to 12 years consulting small business owners, Bill’s professional career includes a big-eight CPA accounting firm, national consumer finance, big-three automotive manufacturing, Arby’s fast food, marketing, and other industries. He’s held multiple executive-level positions and fulfilled the role of CFO at large, publicly held (NYSE, NASDAQ, and AMEX) corporations. In addition, he’s been an owner of private ventures involving residential real estate development and a General Motors new car dealership.