Patents protect your business’s intellectual property and ensure competitors can’t profit off your ideas and concepts. Obtaining a patent can seem like an intimidating process, as there are many steps and procedures business owners must perform to properly safeguard their intellectual property. To make the process less confusing for applicants, the United States Patents and Trademark Office provides the following information.

Decide what type of patent you need

Utility patents are used to protect processes, machines, equipment, manufactured items, or improvements of existing processes or products. The majority of patents that are filed are utility patents, so it’s likely that’s what you’ll need to file as well. There are also design patents, which are applied to a novel and original design for a manufactured item. Plant patents are awarded for the invention or discovery of an asexually reproducing new plant.

Prepare your application

Once you’ve determined what type of patent you’re filing for, you must take the proper steps to prepare your application. There are quite a few things to consider in this case, including the cost for your application, the length of time it will take for your patent to be processed, and whether you want to file a provisional application, which tends to be quicker and less costly. You may also consider securing the services of a patent attorney at this point.

Submit your application

For your convenience, patent applications can be submitted online. You must ensure the patent application is complete and that you’ve remitted the correct payment for the type of patent you’re filing. All patent applications are subject to examination, and the examiner will be in contact with you throughout the process in case there are any issues. A Notice of Allowance will be issued if the patent is approved. If not, you can appeal the decision.