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excited to have found this place!

as described in the title, when we come up with an idea (and let's assume that this idea can be implemented), can I just go ahead and file for a patent (in which I fully describe in much detail its nature and content), or do I have to operationalize and come up with a preliminary prototype (either to demonstrate my seriousness or its viability) first?

The reason for asking this is simple, operationalization invariably involves other people, while ideally it is best to have obtained a patent before involving other people, not that I don't trust people but it is better for focusing on the work if everybody involved knows patent issues are out of the question.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

There is no need to create a prototype before filing a patent. A patent does need to explain invention in enough detail that someone "skilled in the art" can make and use it without "undue experimentation". The patent application also needs to demonstrate that the inventor is in "possession" of the invention, meaning that it is more than an idea or a desired outcome. The application text and drawings demonstrate the invention could come to basic operation (not necessarily optimum operation) without further invention required.

However, it often happens that an inventor learns enough in the early stages of implementation that their first approach can be hugely improved. You want to be spending your money patenting the hugely improved version, not your first idea.

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