How long does the patent process last?
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.Patents are their own, strange animal within the intellectual property family. It takes specialized knowledge to write a successful patent application. While there are non-lawyers who are well-versed in writing patent applications, they cannot necessarily advise you properly about which patent is right for you, or any of the legal ramifications of an unsuccessful patent.
A patent typically takes two to three years to obtain (although it can take longer) and the fees for obtaining one can mount into the many thousands of dollars, depending on your invention and what you are trying to protect. If you're going to spend the money to get a patent (which lasts 21 years), do it right -- don't do it yourself (unless, perhaps, you are a patent attorney).
Speak to an attorney who specializes in patent law to get clear on the process, the preliminary searches and investigation you may want to undertake, the costs and fees involved, and the extent to which you have the capitalization to really market the product once you have the patent.