How To Apply For Disability And When To Seek Legal Assistance

If you have become disabled and unable to work, you may be eligible for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration understands that the disabled person may not be able to come in for their own appointments and also lets a loved one apply on his or her behalf. Disability benefits come in the form of monthly support that helps with living expenses, medical expenses, and bills. Disability benefits may be short-term or long-term, depending on the situation. There are also disability attorneys and non-legal representatives out there who can advise you on how to apply for disability.

We will talk about the different types of disability, how to apply for disability, and when it might be helpful to seek legal help. Read below for more on how to apply for disability.

What Is Disability?

There are two types of disability, or disability insurance. Both types are obtained through the Social Security Administration. The first benefit is Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI. The second benefit is Supplemental Security Income, or SSI.

Disability

The difference between the two is that Social Security Disability Insurance is an insurance program more geared towards people who had been working regularly before their disability. Supplemental Security Income is specifically for disabled persons who have a demonstrated financial need.

To qualify for SSDI, you must have total disability. This means you are completely unable to perform your last job or any other job you have ever performed before. Total disability also means you must be incapable of adapting to a different job suitable for your level of ability, skill and education.

The criteria for SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is demonstrated financial need and a disability that keeps you from holding gainful employment. People over 65 years may not need to show total disability to be eligible for SSI, per the SSA’s rules. To qualify for SSI, you must show both that you are completely disabled and that you do not have adequate means of supporting yourself. Completely disabled means showing you cannot perform any work, either work for which you have previously trained or work you could be trained for.

Applicants for Supplemental Security Income cannot own more than $2,000 in countable assets outside of the home in which they live and one vehicle.

Is There a Need to Apply for Disability?

If you became disabled, cannot work, and cannot meet your living expenses, you may apply for disability. It is also possible to apply on behalf of a disabled family member. If you find out you have a serious illness that is expected to be terminal you should apply for disability immediately. At least you will have peace of mind knowing you will have some support in meeting your living and medical expenses.

In all cases you should begin your application as soon as you expect to be disabled more than a year, as the disability application process can be lengthy. Children with certain medical conditions also meet the qualifications for receiving SSI benefits. Check with the SSA for more information on accepted medical conditions and for how to apply for disability for a child.

The process is mostly straightforward but requires you to be tenacious in pursuing your or a family member’s claim. It is important to remember that SSA denies many claims at first but that does not mean that you should give up if you are experiencing a total disability. SSI or SSDI can be a lifesaver if you or a family member experiences such a hardship. The application process should be taken seriously and not abused if you are not truly disabled. If you are truly disabled, do not be dissuaded as you go through the filing process for either SSI or SSDI. Many denied cases are appealed in the Appeals Court and won.

You may be eligible for SSI or SSDI or both. You can receive both SSI and SSDI at the same time. Even if you haven’t worked in a while and aren’t eligible for SSDI, you may be eligible for SSI if you have a demonstrated financial need.

How to Apply for Disability

There is a lot of help available regarding how to apply for disability. You can apply online for either SSI or SSDI using the Social Security Disability Insurance online application. The SSA will accept any documents submitted online through the SSDI online application and will follow up with you for any additional documents needed. If a friend or family member applies for disability on your behalf, the SSA will be in touch with you to have you sign the documents.

person holding tab with social security form

You can go to your local SSA field office to meet with an SSA representative who helps you prepare your SSI or SSDI claims. You can make an appointment by calling 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment or just stop by your local field office. Friends or family members can also be present with you during your phone or in-person interview with the SSA.

You should stay in close contact with your primary doctor as you navigate how to apply for disability.  You should notify your doctor immediately if you plan to file for disability. Your doctor can help you fill out forms. The SSA will probably be in touch with your doctor for more information on your condition.

When to Seek Legal Help

Before seeking legal help on how to apply for disability, consider the pros and cons. The costs of hiring a disability attorney are thankfully clear and unambiguous. Disability attorneys’ fees are regulated by federal law. Usually the cost is the lesser of 25 percent of your disability back-pay or $6,000, whichever is lower. Disability attorneys only get paid if you win your case.

social security law printed papers

It can be beneficial to seek legal advice during the initial filing process on how to apply for disability. Since the Social Security Administration denies many initial applications, it is common for applicants not to seek outside legal help until the appeals process on how to file for disability.

Filing Your Initial Application

There are a few things to consider in your initial application. Disability attorneys can consult with you best on how to file for disability. First, disability attorneys advise you on your “alleged onset date”, or AOD, for Social Security Disability Insurance. Supplemental Security Income pay starts when you first apply.

For SSDI, AOD determines the date at which you were first eligible for disability and decides how far in the past your back-pay will reach. If you became disabled on a date before your filing, you can get pay as far back as 12 months before your filing date. However, there is also a 5-month waiting period after you first apply during which you are neither owed nor given any benefits. So you would have to have become disabled 17 months before the date on which you applied to get the full 12 months of back-pay. The SSA makes the final decision on the date on which your disability first started. This date set by the SSA is called the EOD, or Established Onset Date.

After that, often lawyers or non-attorney representatives do not get directly involved until the appeals process. If your initial disability application is denied, remember you have 60 days to file an appeal. You also must notify the Social Security Administration if you plan to hire a legal representative using the SSA’s Appointment of Representative https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-1696.pdf form.There are multiple levels of the appeals process. Appeals are often denied at the reconsideration level. At the second appeals level, you will get a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, or ALJ. A lawyer or non-legal representative will help you prepare your answers for the hearing. They will also help you best represent your condition and with cross-examination by the vocational expert during your hearing.

Do I Need to Hire a Disability Attorney?

While it’s possible to get your case approved by the Social Security Administration without legal representation, everything else being equal, Social Security is more likely to approve applicants who are represented by legal counsel. Disability attorneys are the experts on how to apply for disability. If your initial application was denied, in that case you may hire either a disability attorney or a non-legal representative.

Non-Lawyer Representatives

Non-lawyer representatives are also experts on how to apply for disability. A non-lawyer representative is paid the same as a lawyer – both are paid an established sum percentage out of your Social Security benefits and only get paid if you win – but a non-lawyer representative often only handles disability cases and may have more time for your case, while a lawyer could have multiple specialties and less time for your case. Non-lawyer representatives are also more willing to take on long-shot cases while lawyers are more interested in taking cases that will probably win.

Conclusion

Filing for disability does not have to be complicated with the wealth of resources and help at your disposal who can help you on how to apply for disability. Remember that you may not need legal representation for your initial application but as you enter the appeals process, enlisting the help of either a disability attorney, non-legal representative, or social worker or case manager may be beneficial. They can best understand how to portray your application in the best light to the Social Security Administration. With the help of these representatives, your chance of a successful SSI or SSDI application is greatly increased.

How To Sue Someone: 5 Ways To Determine If You Have A Case

Arbitration, the use of law to resolve conflicts between two or more parties, has existed for centuries. Many jurisdictions, including the US, have embraced courtrooms with outstanding enthusiasm. This is why you should know how to sue someone when you are in a dispute or conflict instead of taking matters into your own hands. If you try to resolve matters on your own, you could get sued instead, especially if you injure the person or damage their property.

Civil litigation is common these days. In fact, a lawsuit is filed every two seconds in the US, with millions of others waiting to be resolved. Suing has become a growth industry. According to the American Bar Association, there were over one million attorneys practicing today, and law schools continue churning out new lawyers each year. If there is someone you have an unresolved dispute with, this content is for you. The article highlights how to sue someone, reasons you might want to do so, considerations for filing a suit, and how to determine whether you have a good case.

Reasons You Might Need to Learn How to Sue Someone

There is a myriad of reasons should learn how to sue someone. The following are a few of them:

Recovering Damages

Another person’s actions may cause you harm or injury. This may happen, for example, after you’re hit by a baseball at a major league ballpark or getting food poisoning after eating food at your local pizza joint. You might want to know how to sue someone so you don’t drown under expensive hospital bills. Suits to recover damages can also cover wages lost during your recuperation since such instances will probably ground you for some time preventing you from attending to daily duties and tasks.Your success depends on a legal finding that the other party was negligent, in which the party should have known their action or inaction could cause harm financially, physically, or emotionally.

Enforcing a Contract

You might need to know how to sue someone in order to protect your interests in enforcing a contract between you and another party. This is especially relevant when you want to collect a debt. This is also an appropriate suit to bring when you need to force another person to complete a previously promised action, such as transferring the title of a purchased house or car.In most instances, disagreements arise over the interpretation of a contract, whether the contract is in place, or how to enforce the terms and clauses in the agreement. You need to resolve the conflict by seeking legal action against the party who has not kept his or her part of the agreement.

Protecting Your Property

Sometimes you may have disputes pertaining to your property. The disputes over ownership of property, whether it is your home or car, are common in today’s social and business environment. For example, if your neighbor builds structures such as a fence that extends over your property, you may have to sue them so they remove the structure and recover your property.

Dissolving a Marriage or a Partnership

Many marriages usually end in divorce. Even though some marriages are resolved amicably, most of them involve different levels of anger, stress, and efforts intended to financially punish the opposite side. This is why you need to know when and how to sue someone since family laws protect a person in these instances.Essentially, family law is very important in these scenarios and is a separate system of courts, specialized attorneys, justices, and unique conflict resolution procedures. Family law focuses on the equitable and reasonable end of partnerships as fairly as possible to all the conflicting parties, including the children who are affected in such a scenario.

Replacing a Fiduciary

It is common for individuals to use others as trustees to act on their behalf for a myriad of reasons. For instance, you may decide on setting up a financial trust with a bank so you secure your children’s future, such as in property, in the event that you unexpectedly pass on. The trustees are often sued by the grantors of the trusts or beneficiaries for a perceived or actual failure in managing the trust property.

5 Ways to Determine if You Have a Good Case

Any lawsuit can be broken down into specific components that are legally required for the case to be a “good” case. As the plaintiff, a lawyer provides a checklist of elements and makes sure you can satisfy each with evidence. The cause of action depends on your lawsuit, but you need to consider whether your case meets the required elements.

If it is a breach of contract, such as when you have hired a contractor for home renovations and doesn’t meet their end of the deal as established in the contract, you must prove the following elements:

  1. Whether there was a valid contract in place. As the plaintiff, you need to show that a valid contract existed between you and the second party. If it is a written contract, it should be signed by both parties.
  2. Evidence of breach of contract. Here, you prove that the other party breached the contract by not doing what you had agreed on or had promised to do. For example, in our home renovation example, you must show that the contractor did not make the renovations you had agreed on.
  3. Performance. For a successful breach of contract action, show that you held up your end of the contract terms, such as the provision of capital for the contractor to fulfill the obligation.
  4. Damages. You must prove that the breach of the contract led to economic damages. For example, if the home renovations were meant to facilitate a certain business, you should include the profits you would have otherwise made.

For negligence, you must prove the following 5 elements:

  1. Duty. The defendant should have owed a duty to the plaintiff. The duty arises in several forms.  For example, drivers have a duty to all other drivers on the road by driving safely.
  2. Breach of duty. Here, it should be established that the defendant breached the duty with respect to the plaintiff. Here, it should be established that the defendant failed to act reasonably to fulfill his or her duty to the plaintiff.
  3. Cause in fact. Here, it should be established that if not for the defendant’s actions, the plaintiff would have suffered no injuries.
  4. Proximate cause. This is related to the proximity of the actions of the defendant to the harms that were caused. For instance, if a pedestrian is hit by a motorist they might call their mother from the hospital. The mother might then suffer a heart attack instantly. It should be established whether it is fair to attribute the heart attack to the actions of the defender.
  5. Damages. You must prove damages were incurred, such as medical bills, or pain and suffering caused by the injury.

Considerations before Filing Suit

The following are the considerations before suing someone:

  1. Whether you have a good case. The elements of a good case must be met.
  2. Whether you have tried settling the dispute by compromise. The other party may have a valid argument or a potential claim against you. In that case, adjust your position accordingly. The court may look unfavorably on your suit if you did not seek to resolve the dispute outside of court despite the other party’s willingness to do so.
  3. Whether you have made a final demand in connection with the dispute. The defendant will want to settle the dispute and resolve it instead of sorting it out in a court of law.
  4. Whether you’ll win the dispute. You need to be reasonably certain that the judgment will be in your favor before spending a lot of money on the case.
  5. Whether you have the time and resources to devote to the lawsuit. Lawsuits drain a lot of energy and time. If you don’t have enough time for it due to work, social life, or family, it may not be worth it.
  6. Whether you can pay your lawyer. Lawsuits are typically expensive and you should have the money to cover the legal fees. A few lawyers will agree to only charge fees from the defendant after winning the case in your favor. You will want to check beforehand if your lawyer is willing to agree to this arrangement.
  7. Where you’ll be able to sue. If a person is from another jurisdiction or state, you may not have the power or jurisdiction to bring a suit against the person. Therefore, seek services in his or her location.
  8. Whether you’re within the applicable “statute of limitations.” Here, check with your lawyer to ensure that the time limits of the lawsuit have not run out.
  9. Is it a small claim and can you represent yourself? If it is a small claim, use a “conciliation” or “small claims” court. Here, you might want to represent yourself as you’ll save attorney’s fees.

Conclusion

Civil suit court cases are fairly common these days. For you to protect your rights and interests you should know how to sue someone. This helps you get compensated for injuries and also ensure that you protect your property. In most instances, you’ll sue someone to enforce a contract, recover damages, dissolve a marriage or a partnership, protect your property, or replace a fiduciary.

For the lawsuit to be a good case, it must meet the elements discussed in the article. Look into the considerations highlighted for you to sue. We hope this article has adequately addressed how to sue someone, reasons you might want to do so, considerations of filing a suit, and ways of determining whether you have a good case.

Tips On How To Choose A Good Immigration Lawyer

Are you hunting for the right immigration lawyer to help you with your case? Have you been surveying your options, but are not sure where to even start?

Finding the right immigration lawyer for your particular legal situation is crucial to ensuring that your case receives the attention it deserves. If you are filing a petition for a green card or visa, working to stop your deportation, or are dealing with a similar immigration matter, you need to know what to look for in an immigration lawyer so you can choose one with your best interests in mind.

What Is Immigration Law?

In laymen’s terms, immigration law is the body of laws, statutes, and other regulatory measures determining who can and cannot enter and reside in the country. Immigration is not to be confused with naturalization. Immigration determines who can enter and leave a country while naturalization governs who can become a citizen. The two areas are connected to be sure, with most attorneys specializing in immigration law also handling cases related to naturalization.

Origin of Immigration Law

In the U.S., for instance, immigration policies and laws are governed by the President and interpreted by the Federal Court System. International treatises also govern immigration procedures, such as those put forth by the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

This body of laws has existed since 1976, allowing individuals who are citizens and live legally in a country to travel abroad without incident. This means they can travel and live outside of their home country if desired, and their country of origination must take these citizens back upon their return.

What Immigration Law Encompasses

Court gavel use in a judicial court

Lawyers practicing immigration law are experts on which rules individuals are required to follow if they want to enter and exit the U.S. legally. Immigration law covers customs inspections at points of entry like border security and airports. Immigration laws also dictate what documentation is needed to enter and exit the country, such as visas and passports.

This body of laws gives customs officials the authority to check any possessions you bring into the country. Customs officials even retain the right to hold you for questioning if they deem it necessary upon your arrival into the U.S. Choosing an immigration lawyer is of the utmost importance if you are trying to navigate these laws for your green card, visa, or any other immigration matter.

In fact, around 19 percent of immigrants in the entire world reside in the U.S. That is a staggering figure, particularly when you consider that the nearly 50 million immigrants who live in the country make up about 14 percent of the entire population of the U.S. in total. The country’s immigration laws are constantly developing and changing, so hiring a lawyer who is an expert in these areas is key to ensuring your case is handled appropriately.

Immigration Options

If you are looking to immigrate to the U.S., there are a few different routes available to you. To be in the country legally, you need to receive official sanction to enter the U.S. The document that provides you official sanction is known as a visa. There are different visas based on the duration and purpose of your stay. Depending on your country of origin, if you are coming for a short visit unrelated to business, you may not require a visa at all. If you need a visa, the most common options to choose from are family and employment visas.

With a family visa, a U.S. citizen may submit a petition to allow other family members to immigrate to the country. There are some strict parameters, but a citizen can usually request to bring in their parents, siblings, spouse, and children. A permanent resident living in the U.S. legally may also petition for their spouse and children to come into the country.

There are many forms required to submit a petition for a family visa, which is why it is so important to make sure you receive guidance from a licensed immigration attorney. Employment visas can be divided into different subcategories, including those for skilled workers, priority workers, and investors. Again, navigating this complex maze of documentation and requirements is best done with legal counsel.

The Role of an Immigration Lawyer

woman is having a meeting with her immigration officers

An immigration lawyer aids clients in pinpointing the right visa for their situation that will allow them to enter the U.S. legally. Lawyers practicing in this area of law may also aid and advise regarding deportation proceedings, helping to make or break the client's case.

An immigration lawyer may work for private firms, in public interest settings, or on behalf of the government. For attorneys who work for private law firms, you must pay a fee for representation. There are non-profit organizations that assist individuals with immigration matters. Non-profits typically hire lawyers to assist clients with navigating the complex paperwork and process of immigration. Lawyers who practice immigration law for the government enforce these laws, such as analyzing applications, litigating in court, or helping to create new immigration statutes and procedures.

Role Analysis

woman shaking hands for a successful meeting

If a client can potentially apply for different visas, it is the job of the immigration lawyer to help them select the best option. Some immigration attorneys work with employers who are trying to bring one of their foreign employees into the U.S.

After aiding their client in choosing the right visa, the lawyer will help the individual to process their visa application and give them insight into any factors that could cause their denial. If you are applying for a visa, the attorney may work with you to make sure you are adequately prepared for your visa interview and help you gather the documentation required to attest to your character and fitness recommendations.

If you are facing deportation, an immigration lawyer can serve as your defense and speak on your behalf in court to the immigration law judge presiding over the proceeding. Your entire case can depend upon you having a skilled, knowledgeable lawyer at your side adept at offering sound advice and engaging in litigation.

5 Tips to Hire a Good Immigration Lawyer

1.  Consider the Costs

Our first tip for you to consider when hiring a good immigration lawyer is the costs involved. You should be ready to pay a considerable fee for quality legal services, but they should still come within the realm of reason. Attorneys spend a long time in school and training for the profession, so their knowledge and expertise comes at a cost. They will work very hard on your behalf and have every right to charge associated fees.

In fact, if their fees are too low you should question the credentials of the immigration lawyer you are considering. Lower than average attorney’s fees could be a sign of inexperience or under-qualification. Alternatively, if the attorney’s fees are above the realm of normal fees, you might need to examine what the lawyer’s motives are.

You should plan on paying around $100 to $350 per hour for the services of an immigration attorney. Sometimes, you might get your first consultation free or have it discounted on your bill down the line. If you seek free legal representation through a non-profit organization, you will get qualified representation but the wait might be too long for your case.

2. Be Sure to Ask Questions

It is perfectly acceptable to ask plenty of questions when hiring an immigration lawyer. There are key questions you should always get answered before making your final decision. Ask how long they have been a licensed attorney practicing law, what their experience is with immigration law, and if they are licensed to practice in your particular state.

You should also inquire whether they are members and associated with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, what the case will involve, and the potential outcomes expected. Find out what will be required on your end throughout the duration of the case, who will handle your case, and the means of communication that will be used. Definitely ask about the projected total costs and how much you will need to pay throughout the case. Prior to signing an attorney-client agreement, see if you can get references from past clients. This should never be an issue as a lawyer with a successful case history will have plenty of pleased clients.

3. Verify Credentials

Just to be safe, always take the time to verify the credentials of any immigration lawyer before you hire them. Once they give you the information requested, go on the bar website for their state or region and make sure everything is in order.

Call the references the immigration lawyer provided you with so you can get a clear idea of the process their cases followed, how their cases were managed, and if they were pleased with the outcome.

4. Avoid Unsavory Characters

While this may seem like an obvious tip for choosing an immigration lawyer, avoid unsavory characters. There are many qualified and reputable legal professionals in the field, but some unethical types worm their way in.

For instance, if you speak with an immigration lawyer who advises you to do something wrong or illegal like put inaccurate information on an application, bend the truth with an immigration official, pay money for a bribe, or anything else ethically questionable, run far and fast. If you want your case to go smoothly, the last thing you need is to get in trouble with the law.

Make sure you only hire a licensed, practicing immigration lawyer. No matter what you hear, a notary or other legal professional cannot handle the case for you. There are plenty of legal professionals who are not actual practicing lawyers, purporting to have the prowess to navigate and advise on immigration matters. Not only is this not the case, but you could end up losing money, having your forms filled out incorrectly, or running into legal trouble down the line.

5. Weigh Your Options

Our final tip for choosing a top-notch immigration lawyer is to weigh your options. After doing a careful review with the tips noted above, look over your shortlist of attorneys to see which one fits best with your situation.

By talking with different attorneys and getting an idea of how they approach and handle cases, you can see whether you will work well together. You can also determine which are more qualified to handle your case than others.

Conclusion

Choosing an immigration lawyer who is qualified and knowledge to help you reach a successful conclusion to your case is a process. It takes time and careful consideration regarding your options.

Make sure you consider the costs involved, pose plenty of questions to any lawyers you meet with, verify their credentials, and stay away from anyone that shows a hint of unethical behavior. Finally, weigh your options and decide which immigration lawyer is the right fit for your case.

Useful Tips On Why And How To Patent An Idea

Have an innovative mind that has come up with some decent business ideas? Perhaps you have already even developed a useful product that shows great potential for success. Whatever the reason you are here now reading this article, know that we have some useful knowledge on why and how to patent an idea that will hopefully get you closer to knowing if this is the right choice for you.

The Purpose of a Patent

The patent system was designed to promote the creation and innovation of ideas by allowing inventors ownership for their work and granting them an “exclusionary right.” The exact basis for the patent system can be found in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution. It is stated that this article grants Congress the power “to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”

This gives inventors the legal right to prevent any other from using, making, selling or importing their invention. By definition, this specification is what determines the patent as a “negative right” as opposed to a “positive right”. A positive right would allow one to make, use, sell or offer something for sale This is also known as monopolistic right. A negative right, on the other hand, is a right that puts restrictions on using something in a type of way. Technical terminology aside, a patent protects future revenue stream, but this is only for a limited time.

Patent Expiration

You might be curious as to why a grant is only protected for a limited time. Due to the patent expiration process, this process was designed to allow the public access and information for using the once-patented product. After the time of patent expiration, the public will then be able to take advantage of this opportunity, essentially allowing them the potential to innovate a once-patented invention further.  By having the system setup this way, it sets the stage and encourages progress towards technological advances. This makes sense to do for positive intentions; many minds are greater than one, typically.

Patent Types

So, you're wondering how to patent an idea? Let's find out about the kinds of patents. There are 3 different types of patents that exist, as of now:  utility patents, design patents and plant patents. Utility patents give any individual the right to a patent that invents or discovers any useful, new process, machine, article of manufacture or composition of matter. Utility patents can also be given to those that discover any new or useful improvement to those categories of creations just mentioned. Design patents have the ability to grant anyone who specifically invents an original ornamental design for an article of manufacture. And lastly, plant patents are allowed to those who discover or invent a plant that asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of species.

Should You Patent Your Idea?

If you are undecided about getting a patent for your idea, here are some things to consider before committing. Understand that while there are many benefits to having a patent for a product, it isn’t the only way to find success in using your creation. Patents aren’t the cheapest of things to apply for especially if you are filing for a patent that is for a mechanical or electrical device. This could cost up to $2,500 to $3,000.

Also, not to bring down your hopes or discourage you in any way---only two to three percent of all patented products get approved for the market. Once again, we're not telling you that you should not try to patent your product. We’re just suggesting it doesn't have to be your first step or even a required one.

First Step

You may also be asking yourself in regards to how to patent an idea, what is the first step in obtaining a patent? We suggest an overall assessment and evaluation of your product. That includes understanding how viable your business opportunity is. To do so, really try to understand your product. Determine what its potential target market would be, and get a good idea for your competition. The last thing you would want to do is spend all of that time, energy and money on a product that doesn't have a strong potential foothold in today's marketplace. We will discuss in greater detail what we think you should research further to avoid situations like this.

Patent Research

man doing his research in the library

How to patent an idea? The process involves research. As we mentioned previously, it's a really good idea to know your product before applying for a patent. This includes also knowing if your product may be infringing on someone else's product that is already patented. You can go about this in different ways. But to know for sure, you'll need to conduct a "preliminary patent search." To do so, you can either hire an expert to help you or do it yourself.

Product Prototype

Before filing for a patent, it's important to have your product's materials or mechanics in official order should you happen to develop a product that you would consider to be anywhere shy of your ideal final product. It may prove to be a difficult process in dealing with the patent modification system. It is best to build your prototype first. That way you know if you like it, you know it's ready to be patented.

Manufacturing Cost

Not to assume you don't understand your product or product-to-be, but it's also important to determine how much it's going to cost you to make your creation. Say it costs more to make than the market is willing to give for it. (We figured we'd mention a quick product cost tip, just in case.)

Benefits of a Patent

chart showing the benefits of patent

After taking all of the above mentioned information into consideration when assessing how to patent an idea, you can now decide whether you need the patent. For those who will later learn that their product is not able to be patented, don't panic. Thousands of products that exist on today's market are not patented. And it's not just because they aren't able to be patented. Like we said, you can find success without a patent.

LICENSING RIGHTS

sample patent license agreement

In discovering how to patent an idea, you must know about licensing rights. In gaining a patent for your product, you also gain the right to license your product to a company or multiple companies, depending on the terms of your licensing agreement. And not only that, patented products are a lot more desirable for companies as well. This gives them the confidence that they won't be infringing on the rights of another patent. And actually, some companies may only agree to product licensing if a product is patented or patent-pending.

How to Patent an Idea

At this point in finding out how to patent an idea, you may still see value in getting a patent for your product. If this is the case, then we are going to provide you with some steps which hopefully make this a smoother process for you.

Proof of Invention

First, understand that it is not completely necessary to hire a lawyer for this process. Just to be clear. There will be no court, judge or  legal "research phase in this process. In fact, the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office), which is the department in charge of approving and issuing patents, has rules anyone can follow just fine without a lawyer.

With that in mind, you may still want to take legal precautions while filing for your patent. If you haven't already, a good start would be to develop some sort of record for your invention. This could be a developmental, step-by-step process giving insight on the evolution of your product or even just having descriptions or diagrams that denotes key aspects of your invention. As long as there is some sort of documentation of your invention, you should have what you need. Also, we suggest signing and dating each entry and have two reliable witnesses sign off on this as well. (It is better to be safe than sorry.)

Prepare Then File with the USPTO

In the patent filing process, these are the steps:

  • Making sure your invention qualifies for patent protection
  • Assessing the costs and having the funds
  • Doing a thorough patent search

After checking these steps off of the list, you can then begin the next step which is filling out a Provisional patent application (PPA). This isn't an actual application for the patent itself. Filing a PPA only allows you to claim a patent-pending status. It is a sort of pre-phase process, if you will. It can cost anywhere from $65-$250, depending on the company. And it requires a detailed description of the product, including an informal drawing.

If you decide to file electronically instead, understand that it might be faster to do so by mail, especially if you are only filing one application. But filing online has its advantages too. You get to avoid the mailing system, and you also have the advantage of obtaining instant confirmation of the PTO's receipt of documents.

Conclusion

All in all, there's much to consider when deciding whether o file a patent for your product. Realistically, it depends on exactly what type of product you have created and whether you think a patent is worth it. If money isn't an issue and you don't mind putting in the time and effort, file away; apply for a patent.