Now, below is what I would recommend you do regarding your patent concept. I strongly recommend that you try to do it yourself and learn as much as possible regarding how to navigate through this murky water. Think that you are one of those salmon roe trying to eventually become an adult salmon. Yes, you can do it. Start now.
Step I: Get one of those patent made easy type of books, and read it from cover to cover. Do not start doing anything actually unless you feel you have sufficient feel of the “lay of the land” – knowledge about the patent process. I also suggest you test yourself by asking some questions, and coming up with answers by yourself.
Step II: Write down your invention concept neatly on paper with graphics as best you can do. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you describe the problem you are trying to solve. (or solved)
Step III: Patent Search. There are many patent search firms on the Internet. You may wish to contact them and try to feel out their attitude. If they are terse or pushy, do not have them do the work. The cost of a search usually starts from $300 and ends about $1,000.
Step IV: If the patent search brings a straight-on conflict (someone had invented the same idea), that virtually ends your first attempt to acquire a patent. You consider yourself lucky in that you didn’t get involved in an endless and expensive patent conflict.
Step V: If the search result shows the existence of no prior art (meaning someone had been granted patents on the subject), or similar but not identical prior arts, you can decide to proceed to apply for a provisional patent at the US Patent Office. The provisional patent affords you one year of protection after filing. That doesn’t mean you will have a patent granted eventually, but also this one year would provide you with time to make prototypes, make people connections, and also learn some more about the lay of the land.
Step VI: If the Step V gets a green signal, it is time to apply for a patent. You have a choice of either engaging an established intellectual property attorney (expensive) or do it yourself. My recommendation is for you to do it yourself. It is a rather tedious and time consuming project, however, you would learn a great deal in doing it, the experience of which you are likely to remember for a long time, and enrich your inventor’s life.
Step VII: If patent application is denied on all fronts, this ends your first attempt to receive a US Patent. Believe me sometimes this happens, and is really disheartening. But, if you want to survive and prosper as an inventor, you shouldn’t get discouraged. Slog on.
Step VIII: If the patent is granted without too much compromise with the examiner in charge, you have won a victory for now. You will have a patent. A patent is issued with the number on the parchment with a nice looking ribbon attached. You will be elated. And now,…what?
Step IX: As they say “when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping” Yes, now the real battle starts. You have a patent, now you have to recover all the past expenses, and make a profit stream for the life of your patent. You have to either sell the patent or license it to someone who needs it. Who might be interested in working with you? This depends on the type of your patent. If it is a consumer type, then you have to contact consumer store chains, consumer product manufacturers and/or even consumer product sales representatives. If it is an industrial product, you have to do the same with manufacturers, dealers, distributors, and sales representatives.
Doing all these steps requires your patience and diligence. Set up a home office, and make yourself comfortable. Use a high fidelity headphone set, and make sure your phone line is clear without breaking up. Work only 2 hours a day for this, but always 2 hours consistently. The day will come to you in the end, and the first royalty payment will bring you tears of joy.