Patent Application Process
Step 1: Determine whether you need a patent
You must obtain a patent in order to protect your idea, especially if your idea is one that is likely to generate profit. Patent rights enable you to exclude others from illegally making, selling or using the invention, and to reap profits.
Step 2: Do a patent search
A patent search before beginning the patent application is recommended, but not required. You can either do a search on the USPTO's official website yourself or pay a fee for our firm to hire an independent searching agent to perform a manual search. A manual search is much more thorough than the search you can perform on the website. While no search can guarantee discovery of all prior art, a thorough search before application preparation can certainly provide you with valuable information on any prior art if they exist. Finding prior art may reduce your chances of obtaining a patent but strengthens any patent you do obtain. In addition, an attorney or agent can do a better job presenting your patent application with all the prior art knowledge in mind.
Step 3: Prepare for patent application
A patent application includes an abstract, a specification, at least one claim, a declaration, a filing fee, and usually at least one drawing. Claims are most important in the patent application. They describe the scope of coverage that the inventor attempts to receive from the government. Sufficient patent coverage ensures that potential patent infringers will be prevented from making, using or selling your invention even if they make a slight modification. The most important contribution you can provide for the application is a thorough description of your invention.
Click here to see official information on patent application content requirements.
Step 4: Engage in patent prosecution
An office action from the USPTO usually will be received within 8 to 14 months after filing the patent application. The office action typically raises any objections or rejections of claims in the application. Rejections are quite common because applicants are trying to maximize claims coverage, and in doing so, may impinge on other inventions' claims. We may need to revise your claims to steer clear of conflicts but still obtaining the maximum coverage. This is a fine balance to achieve. Our attorneys are very experienced in this process.
Step 5: Receive notice
A Notice of Allowance will be issued if your application is approved. An issue fee is due 3 months from the date of the Notice of Allowance. After the fee is paid, your approved patent entitles you to control the use, manufacture and sale of your invention for the specified term depending on the types of patent.
Step 6: Patent maintenance
Maintenance fees on utility patents are due during the following periods:
- First payment: 3 to 3.5 years after the date of issue.
- Second payment: 7 to 7.5 years after the date of issue.
- Final payment: 11 to 11.5 years after the date of issue.