So, you have an invention you’ve been thinking about. One that could improve your business? An idea so revolutionary that it could turn an industry upside-down? The next great app? Well, as you can assume, you’re not alone.

One caveat is that commercializing your invention is not as simple as develop – sell-profit. You also likely should try to obtain a patent (or more than one patent). A patent provides you with legal ownership over your invention and secures your legal right to prevent others from manufacturing, importing and selling the same invention. You can attempt to secure one yourself, but unfortunately, the process is long, complex and not for the faint of heart. This is where a patent attorney can save you loads of stress and help you avoid legal minefields.

Patent attorneys are required to pass a state bar exam and the patent bar exam, as well as having at least an undergraduate technology degree. Patent attorneys specialize in the laws, regulations and best practices surrounding each step in the patent process. They understand the workings of the law, and can provide a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Inventors sometimes wonder if they can pursue a patent by themselves, mainly to save on the expense of hiring a patent lawyer. There are self-help books available for those who decide to try to get a patent on their own, but reading a book will likely be a poor substitute for a patent attorney’s experience and judgment.

The cost of working through an attorney, over the course of the – on average – two years or so it takes to get a US Patent approved, is typically in the $10,000 to $15,000 range. These costs can be a bit less for a simpler invention, more for more complex technology, and also can vary based on factors such as how close the ‘prior art’ is to the invention.

Inventing a product and bringing it to market is a courageous endeavor to pursue; one that could be beneficial to yourself and the world around you. Make sure you protect your key business assets, one of the most important being patent protection for your invention.