What's the best way to file a patent online? Is there a site that's affordable yet legally acceptable?
I'd like to get a patent pending for my digital eReader. Where can I go to file this easily online? What does it cost, and is it safe and legal?
It is still possible to file a patent application with a hard copy by mail. However, to file electronically, you need a user account and a deposit account.
Because patent applications, and claims, are highly technical, non-professionals may be making a mistake to file their own applications. That said, the application should systematically describe the invention. Figures help a lot, e.g., the device and some block flow diagrams.
It does not cost much to file a Provisional Patent application (about $150 in PTO fees). Filing is " safe" in that the PTO keeps your application a secret for 18 months before it is published.
For more information, see http://www.biopatent.com/ipprotct.html
There are a number of service providers who can assist with this and patentfiler is one of those firms. It may be worth using a provider such as this as it is prudent to undertake a search in the first instance to ensure there is no 'prior art' existing.
Other firms to consider from a search perspective are Article One Partners https://www.articleonepartners.com/ and also the USPTO website provides information. http://patft.uspto.gov/.
You should think about your long term business plan and align this with your IP strategy. A lack of sufficient experience in the technology field may negatively impact the strength of the IP and potential revenue streams in the future.
While the USPTO (uspto.gov) can be an invaluable resource that is expected to publish various fees, provide for mail/electronic filing, search, laws/rules, etc., you should at least consult with a registered patent agent/attorney.
Costs, form, requisite further filing (e.g., if you file a provisional patent application, vs utility or design), suitable/desirable content inclusion/exclusion, and so on can vary, and reasonable understanding as to the process, rights and obligations, etc. is needed to form & pursue a reasonable strategy (that might also be aligned with business, financial and/or other goals).
My apologies iif you simply wanted a referral to a website through which - all other things being equal - you might secure a patent pending status for an example of an invention that closely aligns with your product(s) and that you can properly/sufficiently disclose.
I would add to Daryl's comment that the USPTO is just limited to US patent filings. While that may be sufficient to Jim's business purposes he might be wise to familiarise himself with what is required to secure patent assets abroad. For that he will need to talk with a patent attorney. Do not make the mistake of imagining that the patent provision in the rest of the world is the same as the US.