So you have an idea, and a great one too. Now what. Can you patent that idea? The short answer is no. However, be aware that an idea is a first critical step in moving towards attaining a patent. But first, you have to get the ball rolling and move from the idea to the invention stage-before you can work towards filing a patent. It is very essential for inventors to expand upon the idea and add a substantial amount of details describing the idea. This is because the USPTO requires that you describe your invention with specific and substantive details so that a person well versed in the art, or one with the same skill set, can not only understand the invention but also be able to replicate it-should they choose to do so. Thus you, as an inventor, may also want to describe all aspects and any alternatives associated with the invention, to help others better understand your concept. If however, you are stuck at the idea stage, you are not yet ready to file a patent application. Furthermore, you should also be wary of disclosing your idea to other people or companies, because these ideas, as such, are not legally protected and are free to be taken or usurped by others. Thus, try to get at least some meat and bones on your idea, so it takes the form of a more material invention. Then, if you would like to still determine the marketability of the invention, you can go ahead and file a provisional application, valid for a year from the date of filing, while you gauge if the invention is worth pursuing. But remember, an idea alone is never patent eligible. Only once you have something substantively looking like an invention, should you consider filing a patent application.