US utility patents are electrical, mechanical or chemical inventions that meet certain statutory requirements and are operable. These inventions can be on actual operative devices, methods for performing a process or compositions of matter. There are also plant patents (on asexually reproduced plants) and design patents (protecting how things look)
The fees involved include fees to the Patent Office (PTO) and fees to a patent practitioner. The fees to the PTO are usually in the hundreds of dollars, while fees to a patent practitioner may be several thousand dollars, depending on the type of patent desired and the complexity of the invention. Various searches should be done to see how crowded the field of the invention is.
The patenting process requires a detailed written explanation, usually with diagrams, that fully describes the invention. The patent examination process is fairly rigorous and usually involves several iterations before a satisfactory version is accepted by the PTO. Patent law is complex and the regulations change frequently. Accurate claim drafting is important and complicated. Properly written claims define the invention. Due to the complex nature of patent law, most people arrange for a patent agency, like InventHelp, or attorney to do their patent.
Beware firms that offer many free services and/or require large cash payments before they will work for you. Ask for references or lists of satisfied customers.
USPTO examiners and patent practitioners are sworn to secrecy. Patent applications now are published before issuance but this can be avoided if special forms are signed that the US application will not be filed abroad as explained in this https://blogs.harvard.edu/blockchain/the-realities-and-constraints-of-the-new-tech-age-inventhelp-to-the-rescue-of-struggling-inventors/ article.
The invention must be described such that a person of ordinary skill in the art could understand and duplicate the claimed invention.Time needed for a patent to issue is usually around 2 years. If it takes more than 3 years, the PTO may reinstate some time. A patent is valid 20 years from their date of US filing.