Innovators’ Toolbox: How to secure a patent

So, you have a great idea or product and you want to patent it. You must be sure to take the necessary steps in securing that patent. First, you have to determine the type of intellectual property protection you need. Then figure out which one of three types of patents you’re searching for:


  1. Utility patent – used when someone invents or discovers any new and useful process, article of manufacture, machine, composition of matter or any useful improvement.
  2. Design patent – used when a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture is invented or created.
  3. Plant patent – used when a new variety of plant is invented that can be asexually reproduced.


After establishing the type of patent you want to obtain, you need to review the patent laws and what types of property can be patented. After reviewing this, prepare to apply for the patent and then submit. While waiting for approval, you will work with your examiner. Once you receive your approval, you and your examiner will discuss what the necessary step are to maintain your patent.


Innovation begins with an idea that is eventually processed into a marketable entity. The United States Patent and Trademark Office provides a complete overview of patents and trademarks, including the application process.


NWISOI encourages Members and Fellows to gain more information regarding patents and trademarks. For more Innovators’ Toolbox tips, visit


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