How does someone with no skills patent an invention?

I came up with the idea for an item that I don’t think exists. I have an idea of what materials would be needed but no idea how to contact someone in that industry that won’t steal the idea.

do you want to know how to patent the idea, orr how to build the invention, or how to contact someone in that industry?

Read this PDF: The case against patents.

I need to build the invention. it’s more of a product that would sell great on an infomercial.

I will look that over once I have free time. It does dishearten me a bit to read what you post but I know greedy people will do anything to keep as much money as they can.

Pretty good article. I would say this. If you’re an engineer working for a large corporation, submitting patents based on your ideas might make sense, especially if you are well-compensated for them. Lots of companies pay big bonuses for patents. My own company is constantly asking us to submit invention disclosures, they supposedly give us a competitive advantage.

But if you’re doing it on your own time, no way.

I’ve made money on patents - but only because my company paid me when I filed and I was granted one.

Most of what sailor posts is correct, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get one.

The first thing you should do is to search through patents for something that looks like yours. Just because you’ve never heard of your invention before doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been patented.
Warning: Penalties for infringement are greater if it can be shown that you knew of the existence of patents. In industry people working on projects are told to never, ever search for a patent on something they are doing. However, since I assume you’ll cease if you find one, this should be okay for you to do.
(BTW I am not a patent attorney, though my patent attorney at Bell Labs like to talk.)

There are numerous companies who will offer to market or patent your invention, and you can retain a patent attorney. I have no idea of if any of these companies are legit. I do know there is very specific language that needs to be used to protect your rights. I read the submissions of my four, and of people in my group who got patents, and I’d never want to try to write that stuff.
Talk to your attorney about marketing after the patent is submitted. I’m not up on the rules any more.
And unless you are making a mint off your invention don’t even think of suing for infringement. It gets expensive. If the infringing company has very deep pockets, you have an open and shut case, and you are a gambling man, then maybe.

But searching is free (though I bet the patent office is shut down now) and is definitely the place to start.

20 years ago every patent I or anyone in my group applied for got sent back for prior art. The patent examiners actually looked at this. In one case the prior art was by another person in my group - our patent attorney had a good time with that one.

10 years ago both patents got accepted without any comment, and I’m sure a decent search could have found something.

I’ve been asked to look at some patents, and I’ve always been able to identify prior art. But if it ever went to trial no one asked me more - and I doubt it did.

I’ve found that companies aren’t as hot on patents as they used to be. Even small bonuses are nice, and you get a cool plaque. At the moment as far as I know my rather big company pays nothing, so I’m sure not going to bother. But the application is on work time, and kind of interesting, so when they pay it makes sense. Kind of a bucket list thing if you ask me. :slight_smile:

Voyager, you work at Bell Labs? What field?

The USPTO website is actually still up, and their homepage says that they will continue to operate for at least the next few weeks.

Remember, you can’t patent an idea, just an implementation. For example, you can come up with a specific way to make a weed-eater, but you can’t patent the idea of a weed-eater. That’s the problem for small inventors like you. A big company will take your idea, make a small tweak to it, and mass produce it. They have a department full of lawyers who will make sure their modification will ensure they can’t be sued. And then you’ll have to deal with the Chinese who will flood the market with imitations because they don’t care about patents.