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Finally, examiner decides on patentablility of invention based on information found during novelty search. Assuming examiner is eventually satisfied that patent claims are narrow enough to distinguish it from "prior art," and inventor is satisfied that claims are still broad enough to have value, patent will then be issued.
Patent law does allow an inventor to "act for himself" in obtaining a patent, meaning inventor can do everything himself. However, without some prior experience or some legal training there is danger of applying for protection that is so broad that your patent is never issued, or is so specific that your invention is not fully protected.
Invention Development Organizations (IDOs) are private and public consulting and marketing businesses that have come into existence to help inventors bring their products to market, or to otherwise profit from their ideas. While many of these organizations are legitimate, some are not. Be extremely wary of any IDO that is willing to promote your invention or product without making a detailed inquiry into merits of your idea and giving you a full range of options which you may pursue.
To fully protect your creative works and your potential profits, you should always consider obtaining services of a competent and reliable patent attorney. While costs may appear expensive, protection offered by a U.S. patent for a commercially valuable invention more than justifies cost.
Even after your patent has been granted, you may still require professional patent assistance. Patent professionals can monitor marketplace for inventors (or copycats) who are infringing on your ideas. The strongest patent in world is worthless if you do not ensure that it is being enforced.
Larry Denton is a retired history teacher having taught 33 years at Hobson High in Hobson, Montana. He is currently Vice President of Elfin Enterprise, Inc., an Internet business providing information and resources on a number of timely topics. For a court room full of additional information and answers to your patent questions visit http://www.PatentPath.com