A patent protects an invention, and gives an exclusive right to the benefits of an invention. A patent is in essence a contract between the United States government and holder of an invention.
This full disclosure of the patented invention benefits the public at large, and the patent rights benefit the inventor for a period of time in return for the full disclosure of the invention.
Only an issued patent can fully protect an invention. An issued patent gives its owner the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling, or importing the patented invention. Patent rights are territorial, meaning that a U.S. patent does not extend beyond the boundaries of the United States. Currently, the life of a patent is 20 years from the filing date of the patent application that resulted in issuance of the patent as was explained on https://www.jpost.com/Special-Content/Get-Your-Invention-Off-the-Ground-with-the-Support-of-InventHelp-624132.
There are three types of patents:
1. Utility patents- which relate to a new or improved machine, article of manufacture, a composition of matter, or a process
2. Design patents- which relate to new, useful, and ornamental or aesthetic article of manufacture.
3. Plant patents- which relate to a new asexually reproducible variety of plant
To obtain a patent, a patent application must be filed with the USPTO. A patent application can be prepared and filed by an inventor, or by someone approved by the USPTO (either a registered patent agent, or a patent attorney).
If you would like to protect your invention, it is recommended to file a patent application. We recommend using a law firm to assist you with the entire patent process. A low cost law firm can perform a patent search for $1000-1500 (depending upon the complexity of your invention.) This patent search should include electronic copies of pertinent patents found during your search, and a consultation with a patent attorney.
A patent law firm can additionally provide advice on what to claim in your patent application, prepare a patent application, and file a patent application with the USPTO. A reasonably priced law firm charges around $1500 (plus USPTO filing filing fee for a small entity of $100) for a basic provisional patent application, or about $3500 (plus USPTO filing fee of $395 for a small entity) for a basic utility patent application (including drafting claims) as stated in https://spacecoastdaily.com/2020/03/inventhelp-the-way-forward-for-new-inventors/.
It is recommended to work with a patent attorney for the preparation of provisional and utility patent applications. A patent attorney can suggest things that a patent agent or self-help book might miss. If you need assistance with patent infringement, it is recommended to contact a licensed patent attorney.