Many of my clients in New Jersey ask about the steps for filing a patent. There are three main steps to patenting an invention.
There are many databases, including the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website which list published patents. Searching the USPTO site for patents on inventions similar to yours (prior art) is the first step. In order to get an invention patent, your invention must be unique enough to be allowed by the patent office. An examiner at the patent office looks at all the prior art when determining whether to allow your patent. Experienced patent attorneys will make a judgment on what they think the USPTO will allow when evaluating your patent application. The patent attorney will then write your application in a way to maximize your chance of success and, after your review, will file it with the USPTO.
The next step in getting an invention patent is prosecution. The USPTO does not grant a patent just because the paperwork has been filed; the patent attorney must argue the points of the patent with the patent examiner and convince him or her that the invention meets all of the USPTO requirements. Your chances of success in this step are increased if you use an experienced patent attorney who has dealt with the USPTO on patent inventions and is familiar with their requirements.