How to Apply for a Patent

Mark Thek serves as president of the southern California-based company Esterline Power Systems. Also a physicist, Mark Thek is a coinventor and patent holder of the multipactor device with a radioactive electron source, an invention that concerns microwave power switching.

Obtaining a patent is a complex process that involves extensive paperwork and time. Here are four steps to consider if you want to apply for a patent:

1. Determine whether your invention or discovery is eligible for a patent. Generally, patents may be awarded to any newly invented or discovered process, machine, manufactured article, or chemical composition. Mere ideas or suggestions are not eligible for patents.

2. Make sure the invention or discovery is useful and operational. In other words, the invention must successfully produce the result it claims to be capable of producing.

3. Confirm that the invention is novel and not currently on sale or available for public use. Patents also will not be awarded to inventions that are replicas of previously patented inventions.

4. Hire a patent attorney or patent agent to assist you throughout the process. The United States Patent and Trademark Office recommends hiring an attorney or agent to expedite the application process.

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