You have spent months, possibly even years, working on your invention. It is a brand-new idea, one that you feel will revolutionize an industry or change the way we live our lives. So, now what? What are the steps to publish your invention? In order to publish your invention, you have to take every precaution to protect it. In the United States there is a one-year grace period between the time you first mention or write about your invention and the time you patent it. This is not so in the rest of the world. (See Reference 1)
Determine whether your invention is patentable. There are three categories that your invention must fit into: novelty, non-obviousness or utility. (See Reference 1) A novelty invention is one that is new or original. Non-Obviousness means an invention cannot, at the time of invention, be considered something of ordinary skill level to somebody else in the inventions field. Utility is defined as useful, not frivolous and having some kind of convenient use.
Contact the United States Patent and Trademark Office (either by phone or in person) and search their database for any similar existing invention or patent. This is important to make sure that your idea is original. The office will not issue a patent for your invention if there is any kind of similar product already registered in the system. (See Reference 2)
Pay any applicable fees and apply for your patent using the electronic filing system available through the US Patent and Trademark Office's website. The EFS is one of the best ways to publish your invention and secure your patent since it allows any web-based computer to file the correct applications without downloading any new software. A complete list of pertinent fees is posted at the website.
Wait for patent approval. If you receive your patent, you may begin marketing and publishing your invention. Selling your patent is one way to go, as are exclusive rights to one party or company, non-exclusive rights or manufacturing it yourself. (See Reference 3)
Obtaining a patent prior to publication will not hamper your ability to publish your invention. In fact, performing this step first will provide you with even more protection for your creation.
Making your invention public, either through a lecture, symposium or other display before securing your patent, could seriously hamper your ability to obtain a patent. In many European countries, any public disclosure of an invention before filing for or receiving a patent will immediately cause you to lose patent protection. (See Reference 1)