Patent Application Process (USPTO)

Before applying for an intellectual property protection, it’s important to analyze the need for a necessary type of intellectual property protection. You must first check, for what type of protection you are looking for your invention. It may be a patent, trademark, copyright, business plan/trade secrets or a mix of these protection variants. Once you are confirmed with the type of protection for your invention, you can proceed further with the patent application process.

Phases of Patent Application Process

Phase-1: Determining the type of patent required for your invention

 There are 3 types of patents:

  1. Utility patent: A utility patent can only be applied and granted if an invention has novelty and should be productive, such as the machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter. Most of the patent applications till date filed at USPTO are utility patents.
  2. Design Patent: A design patent may be granted to an inventor if the ornamental design for an article of manufacture is original and must have novelty feature.
  3. Plant Patent: A plant patent may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers a distinct and new variety of asexually reproduced plant.

After you have finalized what category of patent you have to apply for, you can apply yourself or consult a legal service professional.

Phase-2: Knowing the cost of filing a patent application

Costs vary depending on the type of your application the following fees will be levied upon you:

  • Basic fee
  • Additional fee (inclusive of search fee, examination fee, and issue fee)
  • Excess claims fee, if applicable.

Phase-3: Determining the estimated timeline for application of a patent

 Estimate how long it will be until you receive your first letter from the USPTO in response to your application.

Phase-4: Considering options for expedited examination

USPTO patent application initiatives timeline takes several program initiatives available to the applicants at every stage of an application process. Every program is designed so as to provide assistance to the applicant and to expedite the process.

Phase-5: Considering requirements for international protection

To provide protect the patent rights and support the innovation community globally.

Phase-6: Determining the type of patent application

A Provisional or a Non-provisional application are the two types of patent application that can be filed. A provisional application is a fast and inexpensive way to establish a U.S. filing date which can be later claimed by filing a non-provisional application. Utility and plant patents can be filed using either a provisional or a non-provisional application.

Phase-7: Determining whether you need a patent attorney or a patent agent for your patent

While applying for a patent, the application should be sharp and detailed as per guidelines with zero errors. If the applicant is unfamiliar with the issues in detail, he/she may get into significant trouble. To get the appropriate protection consult registered patent attorneys or professional services.

 Phase-8: Understanding the procedure of online application submission

Submit your initial application with all the required parts needed for obtaining a filing date and include the correct fee. Use EFS-Web, the USPTO’s electronic filing system for patent applications, to submit Utility patent applications, Provisional applications and many other types of Office correspondence to the USPTO via the Internet.

Prior to signing the application, make sure that you have read the written specification and claims. You will not be able to add anything new to your application once it has been filed with the USPTO.

Phase-9: Coordinating with the patent examiner

If you have a legal representation, USPTO will only communicate with the legal representative regarding the discrepancies and any communication and not with the inventor. The inventor as well has to set up meetings to update or verify application data.

In the event that your application is deficient, you will be advised of the lacks by an official letter from USPTO. You will be given a stipulated time to finish the application documenting (an extra charge might be required). If it isn’t rectified at a predetermined time, the application will be returned, and the filing fee paid will be refunded except the handling fee as per the regulation.

Upon the successful completion and acceptance of your application, it will be put forward for examination.

If your application is incompliant:

  • If your application is deemed incompliant by the examiner, the examiner will put forth the reason(s) and you will have the authority to rectify or argue against the objections imposed.
  • If you do not rectify the issues within the stipulated time, your application will be discarded.
  • In the event that your application is rejected twice due to incompliance objected by the examiner, you may submit the appeal of the examiner’s decision to Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

If your application is compliant:

If your application is found compliant by the examiner, you will receive a Notice of Allowance. The notice of allowance will list the issue fee and may also include the publication fee that must be paid prior to the Patent being issued.

Utility and reissue patents are issued within four weeks on the receipt of the issue fee and publication fee (if applicable) in the office. A patent number and issue date will be assigned to an application and Issue Notification will be mailed after the issue fee has been paid and processed by USPTO.

The patent grant is mailed on the issue date of the patent. It will be bound in an appealing cover, includes a gold seal and red ribbon on the cover. It will include references to prior patents, inventor(s) names, specification, and claims. Order certified documents with the USPTO ribbon and seal as well as the signature of an authorized certifying officer.

Are you afraid that your patent application might get rejected? If yes, then you must be prepared to avoid such situation by knowing the reasons for rejection of your patent application.

Phase-10: Maintaining the validity of your patent

Payment of Maintenance fee is enforced beyond 4, 8, and 12 years after the issue date for utility and reissue patents. In case, no payment for maintenance and surcharge (if applicable) has been made by the stipulated timelines, the patent is liable to expire.

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