The Patent Process
The Typical Steps in Obtaining and Maintaining a Patent for Your Invention includes:
A Patentability Search
Patentability searches and opinions help you identify whether your specific invention is patentable over the found prior art. A patentability search may uncover prior art that proves that the invention being considered for a patent application is not new, or that the invention is simply an obvious variation of what others have already done. Therefore, these searches can be helpful in deciding the best means of protecting your invention, including whether to file a patent application. .
We perform the patentability search using your enabling disclosure to discover published documents. Once the search is performed, we will assess whether a Patent Examiner is likely to allow the invention in view of the found published documents.
If you would like us to review your enabling disclosure and set up a time to discuss, please submit a confidential invention disclosure form or schedule a free consultation.
Preparation and Filing of a U.S. Provisional Patent Application
A Provisional Patent Application (PPA) serves as a placeholder for the Applicant, as the PPA allows for the future filing of a Nonprovisional Patent Application to claim the benefit of priority to the PPA. This effectively provides the Applicant up to 12 months to market the invention and prepare the Nonprovisional Patent Application.
Preparation and Filing of a
U.S. Nonprovisional Patent Application
A Nonprovisional Patent Application (Utility) protects the functional aspects of your invention and if granted provides up to 20 years of patent protection from the date of the earliest effective patent application for your invention.
A patent gives the patent holder the right, for a limited time, to exclude others from making, using, offering to sell, selling, or importing into the United States the subject matter that is within the scope of protection granted by the patent. The USPTO determines whether a patent should be granted in a particular case. However, it is up to the patent holder to enforce his or her own rights if the USPTO does grant a patent.
Preparation and Filing of a Design Patent Application
A Nonprovisional Patent Application (Design) protects the ornamental aspects of your invention and if granted provides up to 15 years of patent protection from the date of issuance.
In general terms, a "utility patent" protects the way an article is used and works, while a "design patent" protects the way an article looks. Both design and utility patents may be obtained on an article if invention resides both in its utility and ornamental appearance.
Written Responses to the USPTO
After the filing of a Nonprovisional Patent Application the USPTO will issue a response once your application has been examined. In most circumstances, the initial response will be in the form of an Office Action. All Office Actions require a response within a statutorily recognized time in order to advance prosecution.
Notice of Allowance
Once a Nonprovisional Patent Application is allowed, the USPTO will issue a Notice of Allowance that requires a payment of an Issue Fee. Once the issue fee has been paid, an Issue Notification will be sent by the USPTO providing the Applicant a patent number and its anticipated issue date.
Any extra patent applications based on the original "parent" application will need to be filed before the parent patent issue.
Patent Maintenance Fees To Extend The Life/Term Of Your Patent
To extend the term of the life of your Utility patent to its maximum of 20 years from the earliest effective filing date of your patent, you will need to pay “micro entity” maintenance fees of $400, $900 and $1,850 on the respective 3rd, 7th and 11th year anniversaries of the date of issuance of your patent (assuming the Owner is a “micro entity”).
Foreign Patent Applications
Depending upon your interest in foreign patent protection, within twelve months of filing a U.S. patent application or prior to your invention’s public disclosure, you will need to apply for your foreign patent rights – typically by filing what is known as a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Application.
A PCT application extends the foreign filing deadline by an additional 18 months for a total of 30 months from the priority date. After the expiration of the 30 months you will need to file national (or regional) patents in whatever countries in which you decide to pursue protection. Patent protection for non-PCT countries must be filed within 12 months of the priority date.