Patenting is a complicated and multilayered process. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will expect you to have already fully developed and proved your design prior to starting your application. See our design page for more information about this step in your product development. We’re here to help you navigate this process. Continue reading below to see what’s involved in the patent process.


1. Determine what type of patent you need.

There are 3 different types of patents – plant, utility, and design.

Plant patents simply cover intellectual property related to plants. 

Design patents do not cover any sort of machine design. That’s right! Design patents only cover ornamental designs. Examples include cell phone casings, clothing, and purses.

Utility patents cover processes, machines, and all sorts of manufactured items. Examples include manufacturing methods, tools, appliances, and robots.

For detailed information on each type of patent, please visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Process Overview.

2. Decide who will submit the patent application – you, a patent agent, or a patent lawyer.

There are advantages to each of these options.

Applying for yourself can save you money but requires a lot of studying and work on your part. The USPTO offers assistance to people who elect to apply for patents on their own. Here is a good place to start learning to apply on your own.

A patent agent is an individual who is registered with the USPTO and is able to prepare, file, and execute applications for patents on behalf of their clients. Patent agents are subject-matter experts with a degree in one or more engineering or science disciplines. Patent lawyers will sometimes employ patent agents to work with them on patents they do not have the education to understand. The advanced product knowledge provided by a specialized patent agent is definitely a plus. Working with someone who fully understands the field of your invention will greatly reduce the amount of technical guidance you have to provide. The downside to hiring a patent agent is that they are not a lawyer. To see the benefits of using a patent lawyer, continue reading below.

A patent lawyer has many additional skills and services that you may require after being awarded your patent. Like a patent agent, a patent lawyer is registered with the USPTO and is able to prepare, file, and execute applications for patents on your behalf. The difference is that they can also continue to serve you later in patent-related issues that require a lawyer’s authority. Examples of patent related issues requiring a lawyer include prosecuting infringements on your patent, applying for trademarks, and representing you in legal proceedings.

If you choose to work with a patent agent or patent lawyer, you’ll want to ensure that they are registered with the USPTO before doing business with them. You can check an individual’s status with the USPTO here. Always ensure that whoever you choose to help you apply for your patent has experience filing patents in the field related to your invention.

3. Consider the costs.

When using a patent agent or patent lawyer, the total cost of applying for a utility patent can range from $5,000 to over $15,000. Examples on the lower end are things like a wrench or camping shovel. Something with the complexity of a riding lawnmower could be in the $15,000 range.  There are many variables to consider. Ask your patent agent or patent lawyer for an estimate before committing to work with them!

3. Conduct a patent search.

Conducting a patent search is to ensure that you don’t unnecessarily sink time and money into an invention that has already been patented. Doing a preliminary search yourself is always a good idea, but we highly recommend following that up with a professional search by a patent agent or patent lawyer. This service can be purchased separately from the actual patent application service. In most cases, we will recommend a patent search at the conception stage. This allows us to design around any existing patents related to your invention as we create your preliminary design.

4. Prepare.

Have your design completed before you begin the patent application process. You cannot patent an idea! As previously mentioned, you will need documentation to prove that your design will work and can be built before you can apply for a patent. Trying to do this during the application process is at best frustrating and at worst impossible. The time frame that you have to respond to questions from the USPTO is not infinite. 

Your design will be fully vetted by USPTO professionals in the field related to your invention. If you do not have a fully developed design before applying, your application will be rejected. For example, some designs will require engineering calculations and drawings to show that your invention will work and can be built. And, while not required in order to apply, we also recommend creating a physical proof-of-concept prototype to unequivocally prove that your design will function as described in your application. Dominarc can create a prototype for you.  

5. Apply!

If you have chosen Dominarc to develop your product design, we can answer all technical questions for you and provide any additional drawings needed to facilitate the completion of your patent application. Alternatively, we can work directly with your patent agent or patent lawyer to handle the entire process for you.


  • Help you determine what type of patent you need
  • Connect you with a quality agent or lawyer
  • Answer any technical questions that may arise during your application process
  • Help you generate technical content for your patent


  • Patent sketches/drawings
  • Technical writing
  • Other supporting information needed to complete your patent