A Brief Overview of the Patent Application Process
Wondering how to patent your idea? For those new to the world of patents, it’s easy to quickly become bewildered. You have a strong idea, but you’re just not sure how to proceed in order to best protect your intellectual property. Here at GPS, we’ve seen many inventors, investors, and business leaders get short-changed because they made mistakes navigating the patent process.
Patent filing is a dense, slow, and complicated realm. But in order to give you a framework with which to move forward, here’s a bird’s-eye-view of the process from beginning to end.
1: Conduct a Patent Search, Determine Patentability, and Modify As Needed
Applying for a patent is a lengthy and costly process, which may come to nothing in the end if the USPTO denies your application. That’s why it’s important to start research as soon as possible in order to determine whether your idea is patentable. As of last June, the US patent office had issued 10 million patents. That doesn’t include provisional patent applications, worldwide patents, and unpatented products already on the market. If you did your own search and couldn’t find anything close to your invention, it’s possible that you’re simply not searching right. An experienced patent search company can give you a more accurate forecast of whether or not your idea is patentable, and help you modify your design to prevent possible disputes down the road.
2: Determine What Kind of Patent You’ll Need
There are three kinds of patents: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. Most patents (and usually, the most valuable ones) are utility patents. That being said, you might need more than one patent in order to protect your art. Each different kind of patent has a unique processes, so make sure you understand the necessary steps and filings for each.
3: Prepare Your Application (and file a provisional application, if necessary)
This is the stage at which you may want to reach out to a patent attorney or agent, if you haven’t already. Independent inventors don’t need to have an attorney to file a patent application, but assembling the necessary information, following the proper procedure, and framing your application are all much easier with a pro at your side. Perhaps more importantly, working with an agent or attorney can greatly increase your chances of approval and having that approved patent be most valuable. This preparation stage will include:
- Submitting any necessary provisional patent applications.
- Understanding your timeline. (It may take up to a year to even hear back from the patent office, although you can expedite the process in some cases.)
- Creating a strategic description of your art which is general enough to give you the greatest possible patent footprint while still emphasizing those unique aspects that make it patentable.
- Submitting your application and paying associated fees.
4: Work with a Patent Examiner
The patent approval process is not always a simple “yes” or “no.” Rather, you’re more likely to enter into a dialogue with the examiner, wherein they can notify you if something is incomplete, explain why your application was turned down the first time, and give you time to make modifications and re-submit. If your application is rejected twice, there’s still an appeals process.
5: Approval Maintenance
If your patent application is approved, you will receive a Notice of Allowance. You may also receive a note about an issue fee being due, and possibly a publish fee as well. Remember that after the patent is issued, it’s still important to maintain it as the years go by, or your patent will expire.
Ready to get started on the first step? Global Patent Solutions provides in-depth, secure, and knowledgable background that will help you build a better patent case. Read more about our expertise here, or contact us today.