Historically the US has been the best place to get your initial patent
How do you go about obtaining a patent in the US? There are several answers to this question, depending on what you want. Do you have money to spend on a patent or are you counting pennies? Do you want a provisional or a non-provisional patent? Do you want to do some of the work your self or have a professional do everything? The middle road is probably the best route. Using the patent attorney as a consultant for getting the patent filed will probably get you the best result at a moderate cost.
The first step will be to have a patent search performed. The search will determine whether your idea has been claimed or not. This will probably cost you about $500+ unless you do it yourself. Your best bet is to do a preliminary search yourself. If there are no obvious patent conflicts with your idea, then let the attorneys do a full search. The results of the patent search will tell you if it is wise to proceed with obtaining a patent in the US or not. See US Patent Search.
If you have $10,000-$20,000 budgeted for a patent, the answer is easy. Use a good patent attorney. Preferable you will chose from the recommendations of business associates, who have had patent work done recently. Explain your idea to him. He will glean all the information from you necessary to complete a non-provisional patent. He will take care of all the details required to file it with the US Patent Office. He will also take care of any revisions required by the Patent Office.
What if finances are limited, but you still want some protection? You want to go out and sell your idea without worry. For less than $4,000 you can have a provisional patent prepared. It has its shortcomings. The patent is very informal. It does not include drawings or claims. It is only good for one year. Before the year is over, you must file a full non-provisional patent or it is considered abandoned. This short cut is only worthwhile if you are trying to buy time and protection on a limited basis.
More information about doing some or all of the patent work yourself can be found on the Invention Submission page.
Here you will find the details of what the finished non-provisional patent will contain. Over a period of 3-4 weeks and a series of phone conversations, the patent attorney will develop the components of a good patent. These are:
When the patent application is actually submitted to the US Patent Office, it then has patent pending status. You will have finished all of the steps for obtaining a patent in the US.
This page has given information about obtaining a patent in the US. The process is fairly straightforward. The most important thing is to pay close attention to the patent search. It will tell you what rights are available for your idea. If the subject is fairly well covered by other patents, be careful. Don't make the mistake of getting a patent that gives you very little protection. If it gives you very little protection it will probably have very little value.