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3 things to know before seeking a patent

Applying for a patent is just one thing you can do to make sure you have protected your business and ideas. It's not always easy to obtain a patent, so getting started early is important.

Before you take any steps toward obtaining a patent, you should make sure you qualify for one. You should meet three main qualifications before filing for your patent.

1. Your invention needs to be unique

Yes, your invention or idea has to be unique. It should be something the public isn't aware of and that hasn't previously been explored by the public in some way. Basically speaking, if you can find a video or photo of something that you're trying to patent, you won't be able to; it already exists.

2. Make sure your invention has a purpose

While it might be interesting to try to patent things without a purpose, the truth is that you'll only waste your time and money. Your invention has to have a real purpose or solve a problem people have to be able to receive a patent. For example, it's possible to patent new software that helps run a new operating system.

3. The invention or idea can't be too obvious

Finally, remember that your idea can't be obvious. For example, mixing two dog breeds and trying to "patent" your findings is unlikely to work out, since the results were already predictable, let alone other issues with that attempted patent. If you want to patent something, make sure it's something no one else has thought of.

These are three tips to help you get a patent. Know these rules, and it will make it easier to get your idea patented.

Source: Fortune, "Your Ultimate Guide to Applying for a Patent," Dawn Reiss, accessed Jan. 31, 2018

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