Necessity may be the mother of invention, but surely the patent is its guardian angel. After all,where would inventors and entrepreneurs be without this humble document to help protect their ideas in the marketplace?

But patents have their limitations, too. This collection of articles and online resources can help you educate yourself about the patent process.

The Basics

A Primer on Patents
This article includes quick answers to some basic questions about patents -- such as what kinds of inventions are eligible for patents.
What are the risks of taking my ideas to a large corporation?
Don't leave your great idea vulnerable. Protect and benefit from your good idea with this advice.

Conducting a Patent Search

How Trademarks Differ from Patents and Copyrights
Patents, copyrights, trademarks. Which applies to your latest brainstorm? Learn the differences between these important types of intellectual property.
Patent Searching Online
You've got a great idea. Has someone else beaten you to the punch? A spin through a patent database can help you find out just how innovative your invention is -- and whether someone else has dibs on it.

Cautionary Tales

That's Arthur Battaglia's patent number. He applied for it eight years ago, got it six years ago, and has been pushing his idea ever since. So far, no takers.
Patents have their limits -- as SuperClip inventor Linda Froehlich found out.
Patent Fending
Here's a look at some inventors who successfully defended their patents by being as innovative about the battle as they were about their initial creation.

Applying for a Patent

The Easy Way to Patent Pending Status
Filing a provisional patent application guards against rip-offs while buying time to file a regularpatent application.
Obtaining Your Own Patent Should Be Easy
Gain a fuller understanding of the patent process by reading through these frequently asked questions -- and a related discussion of provisional patent applications -- before putting your ideas on file.
Can You Get a Patent without a Lawyer?
It's possible. Here are some necessary steps.
Understanding Patent Applications
What's involved in drafting and filing a patent application? Here's an introduction to the steps you need to take.

Protecting and Leveraging Your Patent

Enforcing a Patent
If someone violates your patent, you can take legal steps to stop the infringement. A look at the remedies available.
Patent Licensing: Another Way to Enhance Return on Investment
Don't overlook the possibility of receiving royalties for use of your company's intellectual property. Investigate creating a patent licensing strategy.