An inventor must develop an idea into a complete description of a machine, part, process, or other acceptable subject matter (a patent cannot be obtained on an idea or suggestion).

Ideas may come from many people and places but the patent goes to the inventor(s) who takes the idea to completion and can describe the invention well enough that someone skilled in the art can build the complete and operable invention without much experimentation.

Having a sound strategy is important: Keeping the idea and innovation as a trade secret until the patent publishes may be essential to keeping a competitor from taking the idea (in case the patent does not issue), others use this the time after filing to promote their invention as you can read from

Is This a Good Time to Patent Search? Why Search?

  • Before getting started is a great time to search, you may find ways to solve some problems or you may find an expired patent that you can use for this particular problem or application or you may want to incorporate some of the existing knowledge from yours or another field into your design.
  • Patent applications and issued patents are a wealth of information that is available in any technical field, much of it available for anyone’s use in the form of expired patents.

  • An experienced searcher who is knowledgeable in patent law will be the best searcher. U.S. patent law is constantly changing and what was patentable a few years ago (or in another country) may not be patentable now (or here).
  • A search should involve more than just a USPTO patent search. Any product available in the world and any patent issued in the world may be applied against a patent application. Just because you are sure that no one has invented ‘this’ yet because you have never seen one doesn’t mean that a patent doesn’t exist that has the same elements.
  • Avoid infringing an existing patent with your new design.
  • Avoid a false start. If your invention does not meet the requirements of New Invention or Non-obviousness you may have to change your invention in order to patent it. The cost of doing a thorough search is considerably less than the cost of re-engineering. There are patent agencies that could provide help for your new invention idea.
  • Protect your investment. A thorough search can reveal strategies for writing an effective application. A bad search can lead to a bad investment.