- A prior art search, to see if the exact thing you want to patent has been done before. Anyone can do a preliminary prior art search – it is always worth a few hours of time to check on Google. A patent attorney can help you do a deep prior art search via a service who specializes in this activity.
- An invention disclosure form, where the core idea and its potential application areas are described. This is the most important part of the patent application for the purpose of establishing a priority date. If an idea is alluded to in the description, you can file additional patents which are continuations and continuations-in-part based on the parent patent.
- An initial set of claims. This is the most critical part in terms of the value of the patent, because whatever is in the claims constitutes what you are able to protect. I always advocate doing claim construction with a seasoned patent attorney, who can ask smart questions and help to construct a set of initial claims that fulfills the intention of protecting the invention at hand.
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