1. Expedited Process: [Note: if your name is not Apple, Google, Microsoft, Sony, or Oracle, skip to step 2]:
Scribble a drawing in crayon on a napkin, write ‘for, you know, stuff’ and drop it off at the Patent Commissioner’s house when you have dinner with him and his wife. On the off-chance it isn’t accepted the next day, be polite but firm. The assigned examiner may be new or overworked. Bear in mind, he is NOT your employee. He serves several other large corporations as well.
By the way, don’t forget that the Patent office is running a special this month: you get every 1000th patent free!
2. Standard Process:
(i) spend several months with a team of lawyers (paid out of pocket) carefully researching the state of the art of your field, fleshing out your idea, researching potentially related patents, and constructing unassailable claims of your own. In the course of this, learn a new language called “legalese,” which bears only a superficial resemblance to English — much as its speakers bear only superficial resemblance to humans.
(ii) assemble a meticulously crafted and airtight application — one which no sane person can find fault with, because it has no fault.
(iii) get rejected by the examiner, who clearly did a sloppy google search for some keywords. He cites several patents which have nothing in common with yours, except for those keywords.
(iv) reply to said patent examiner, patiently explaining why a simple reliance on keyword similarities is insufficient evidence of prior art, and that modern linguistic scholarship has shown different sentences can have words in common.
(v) receive a reply with “final rejection” emblazoned in huge letters, and in what appears to be blood. An attached notice explains that any further communication regarding this patent will result in a late-night visit by three large fellows with Bronx accents. Your lawyers dismiss this as boilerplate, and explain that “final rejection” actually means “we want more patent fees.”
(vi) battle your way through 50 years and $1000,0000 of appeals and rejections as the examiner displays an almost inhuman level of ineptitude, an apparent failure to grasp rudimentary logic, infantile communication skills, and an astonishing ability to contradict himself hour to hour.
(vii) Suspect your patent examiner is planning to run for Congress, where his skills would be better appreciated. Encourage him to do so. Maybe his replacement will be better equipped, possessing both neurons and synapses.
(viii) Eventually you reach the end of the process. There has been one of two outcomes:
- You passed away long ago, and no longer care about the patent.
- Your application finally was accepted. Because an accepted patent is valid from the original date of application, yours expired decades ago. But this does not matter, since the idea is long obsolete anyway.
Either way, you should feel privileged. You have participated in one of the great institutions of American Democracy!