Best Invention and Patent Services

  • InventHelp
    4.7(398)
  • For Sale by Inventor
    4.7(526)
  • Davison
    4.5(2,635)
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If you're an inventor with a brilliant idea but lack legal expertise, invention and patent services can be worth looking into. These specialized services provide crucial support to inventors, assisting in everything from conducting comprehensive patent searches to filing robust patent applications. They can also offer valuable advice on marketing and licensing your unique invention.

Read our invention and patent services buyers guide to find the right company to take your idea to a tangible product.

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How do invention and patent services work?

A patent is crucial for individuals or businesses that have invented a unique product, process or technology and want to protect it from being used or replicated by others without permission.

Typically, when you work with an invention and patent company, you will start with a free consultation. This consultation will determine what type of services you need. If the company determines your idea is unique, it can help you with the patent application, along with prototyping, modeling and technical drawing assistance.

Who needs a patent?

Not every invention or idea requires a patent. The patenting process can be expensive and time-consuming, so it's essential to weigh the potential benefits against the costs.

Here is who should consider getting a patent:

  • Inventors: If you've come up with a novel invention, obtaining a patent can provide you with exclusive rights to produce, use or sell your invention. This can prevent others from capitalizing on your idea.
  • Startups and businesses: For startups and businesses, patents can be critical for protecting their unique products or technologies. A patent can also add value to a business, as it can be used as a selling point to investors or potential buyers.
  • Researchers and academics: Patents can help protect new findings or technologies. This can be particularly important in areas like biotechnology or pharmaceuticals, where a significant amount of time and money may be invested in research and development.

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What are the different types of invention and patent services?

Invention and patent services play a critical role in helping inventors safeguard their intellectual property. However, it's important to understand that not all companies offer the same range of services.

Some firms might provide comprehensive services, including patent searches, patent application drafting and filing, responding to office actions and even post-patent services like marketing and licensing support. On the other hand, some might only specialize in certain areas, such as conducting patent reviews or preparing patent applications.

  • Full-service company: Full-service patent companies offer marketability testing, patent searches, legal patenting services, marketing to retailers and more. They work with inventors from idea conception through retail sales.
  • Individual service company: Some companies specialize in one or two aspects of the invention and patent process. For instance, a company may help with prototyping or marketability research.
  • Referral service: There are many services that connect inventors with patent service companies for a fee. These may be helpful if you need extra guidance.

How to compare invention and patent companies

When comparing invention and patent companies, you will need to know what services you require. This could include patent application assistance, prototype development or marketing and licensing negotiations.

Since different companies offer varying levels of support in these areas, it is important to compare similar companies. Here are a few things to research when looking at invention and patent companies.

What technical experience does the service offer?

Look for patent services that work with attorneys who have experience in the exact field of your invention. It is important to know that they have experience developing and marketing products that are similar to yours.

Additionally, find out whether the service has worked with clients in your field, and ask for a list of successful former clients to serve as references. Some companies will say that this information is confidential or legally protected, but this is a red flag that might indicate the company does not have a successful track record.

How much does the service cost?

Patent costs vary from company to company, but it’s a good idea to ask for an estimate of the costs upfront. Companies that will not provide a fee schedule are more likely to pile on unexpected charges throughout the process.

Also check if the service bills by the hour or has a standard filing fee. Find out exactly what you are billed for and when.

Most patent services charge rates that are within a 20% range of each other. Extremely low rates can be a sign of problems with a service.

How big is the company?

Companies of all sizes can file successful patents. But depending on the type of your invention, you might prefer to work with a large patent services company versus a small company or vice-versa.

Find out how many clients the firm is currently working with. Most qualified services should be working with at least one or two new clients every few weeks; major firms secure around five to 10 patents each month.

What is the company's success rate?

One of the best ways to evaluate a patent service is to investigate the company’s success rate. It’s not always easy to find this information, but it is a valuable measure of a company’s worth.

Ask the company for names and patent numbers for all the patents they have helped inventors secure in the last several months. A good company should at least have two to four secured patents a month, preferably more. It should also be able to tell you what percentage of clients were able to secure a patent and which retailers it has partnerships with.

Does the company work with attorneys?

To patent an invention, you have to file legal paperwork. Some patent and invention service companies do not secure patents, leaving you to find an attorney on your own, which will add to your expense.

How much do patent services cost?

Depending on what you are using a patent and invention company for, you may be charged a fee for any of the following:

  • Having your idea assessed
  • Researching patents in related industries
  • Filing for a temporary patent
  • Filing for a permanent patent
  • Prototyping your product
  • Developing marketing materials
  • Securing your contract with the company
  • Paying lawyer or court fees

All of these fees can add up fast; ask for a complete list of all of the charges associated with the service before signing anything or submitting your idea.

Some patent services set a price cap, which can ensure you don’t get any big surprises when the bill comes.

Patenting a simple idea usually costs $5,000 to $7,000, but complicated inventions cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. These costs primarily come from two different sources:

  • Patent fees you pay to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office — usually a few hundred dollars
  • Legal fees you pay a patent lawyer for their help researching and preparing your patent application — usually $200 to $500 per hour

There are also ongoing costs for revising, maintaining and enforcing your patent that vary from case to case.

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Pros and cons of invention and patent services

Invention and patent services can be a vital resource for inventors, providing support and guidance through the complex process of securing a patent and bringing an invention to market. However, like all services, they come with their own set of pros and cons.

Pros

  • Expert help: Professionals who are experts in patent law can guide you through the application process, reducing the risk of errors that could jeopardize your patent rights.
  • Intellectual property protection: A patent gives you the right to stop others from copying, manufacturing, selling or importing your invention without your permission.
  • Profit potential: If your idea is patented and successfully brought to market, there's potential for significant financial gain. Patents can add to the value of an established business operation.

Cons

  • Costly: Securing a patent can be expensive. The cost of patent applications, legal fees and invention services can add up quickly.
  • Time-consuming: The patent process can be lengthy, often taking several years to complete. This can delay the time it takes to bring an invention to market and start earning revenue from it.
  • No guarantee: Even with a patent, there's no guarantee that your invention will be commercially successful.

FAQ

Can you sell an idea to a company without a patent?

Yes, but most companies won’t buy an idea or invention that doesn’t have at least some form of legal protection. If you’re selling an idea for an invention, two simpler ways to protect your intellectual property include:

  • Having the company sign a nondisclosure agreement, which stops it from using your idea without your approval
  • Filing a patent application, which at least establishes that you had the idea first

Unfortunately, many companies won’t sign nondisclosure agreements, so going through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is still your best bet.

What is a poor man's patent?

A poor man’s patent involves mailing a description of your invention to yourself to establish when you had the idea. Unfortunately, this is an invalid method of proving ownership because the paper trail is weak and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office now works on a first-inventor-to-file system. This means that the first person to file a patent for an invention is legally its inventor, even if someone else can prove they had the idea first.

What inventions can be patented?

The government separates patentable subject matter into four categories— processes, machines, manufactures and compositions of matter. These categories are incredibly broad by design. Functional examples of patented inventions include:

  • New plant varieties
  • New chemical formulas and compositions
  • Tools
  • Computer software
  • Gadgets
  • Business methods
Can I get a patent for free?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office refers inventors who can’t afford their own patent lawyers to two programs that perform free patent application preparation, filing and prosecution services:

  • The Patent Pro Bono Program matches applicants with volunteer patent lawyers.
  • The Law School Clinic Certification Program provides inventors with services from law students working under the supervision of a registered patent practitioner.

Inventors submitting their own applications can also petition to have their fees waived.

Not sure how to choose?

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