In order to obtain a patent, an application must be submitted to the United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO). It's important to know that no matter how painstaking your preparation, an initial rejection of your application is possible--and even common. A patent rejection, however, is not the end of the road. Rather, it's the beginning of a dialogue that will help you to better frame and refine your application in order to ensure approval the second time around.
As common as a patent application rejection is, it can still be extremely alarming. In order to help you better prepare your application and understand the process, here are three of the most common reasons that patent applications are rejected.
#1. Invention Is Not Novel Enough
If the invention doesn't offer anything new, the patent can get rejected, especially if it infringes on an earlier work. The prototype might be a conglomeration of existing ideas. Keep in mind that this determination involves subjectivity on the part of the examiner. Lacking novel quality is the top reason why patents get rejected.
The main reason a patent doesn't pass the novelty test is if the invention is not the first of its kind. The examiner will provide a rejection letter and cite the "prior art" if the invention is not unique enough. It's important to note that more than one piece of prior art may be cited to prove that your invention is not novel. Sometimes, a conglomeration of different previous patents might add up to something that resembles your invention too much to allow for patentability. This is the primary reason for an initial patentability search before you submit your application.
#2. Concept Is Too Obvious
You're not allowed to patent a process or machine that's already easy for someone to figure out on their own. This determination is also an opinion of the USPTO. Your invention needs to be unique from prior art, as the more unique it is, the more likely it will be approved. A key test is how much the new product differs in features and functions from existing patents. If the examiner cannot cite prior art, then your invention should be considered non-obvious.
#3. Application Errors
Another common reason why a patent gets rejected is due to an application being completed improperly. The most common types of errors are related to informalities such as missing procedural steps, improper syntax or grammar and improper use of reference numbers. Simply leaving out an abstract can also hinder the approval process.
Your application can also get rejected if you don't include sufficient information to describe your invention. A patent requires that the inventor discloses completely how to make the product with full technical details. The language should also clearly describe how the invention works.
If the claim is incomplete, you might get an objection rather than a rejection. While rejections pertain to patent law, objections are more related to patent application rules. In order to avoid these issues, it's best to work with experienced patent experts.
How To Approach a Rejection
When you encounter a patent rejection, you should not treat it as a final judgement. Individuals should use the opportunity to educate themselves about the approval process and how the initial rejection is an opportunity to edit.
The reason for hiring professional patent search is to help your application either (1) get approved the first time or (2) get a nice, clear response in the initial rejection so that you can reframe and submit for a quick approval. Equally importantly, by having a professional patent search performed, you improve your ability to ensure that the patent you get approved provides you with the broadest coverage possible - thereby optimizing the value of that patent.
Questions? Give Us a Call
Here at Global Patent Solutions, we understand the lengthy process of a patent application. That's why we strive for excellence in everything we do, and work together with our clients to find the information that they need in order to be successful. Contact us at 877-234-0141 to learn more about how we can assist you with reaching your goals, whether it's to achieve a patent or learn about existing art.