Patent protection is an important topic with which to familiarize yourself when producing a product of your own creation.
For an introduction on patent protection, see Patents 101.
If you are considering filing for patent protection, it is helpful to understand what the process for filing for a patent looks like once a patent type is selected. We’ll stick to a standard non-provisional patent application in the example below.
1. The Write-Up
The applicant creates a write-up of the invention. This is generally referred to as the patent application and includes a description of the invention. The description normally includes drawings or other figures. It also includes claims which identify the invention for which the applicant seeks protection. Some formal requirements apply to the organization and information included in the write-up. The appropriate sources file the write-up along with various formal documents and the payment of fees.
2. The Examiner
An examiner receives the case assignment. The examiner’s job is to make sure the patent application complies with the formal rules and regulations and to verify that the invention is patentable. The examiner may issue a rejection if issues are identified which will need to be remedied and/or references to other patents, products, or papers are cited to show that the invention described in the patent is not patentable. This rejection is normally issued in a document referred to as an Office Action.
3. The Office Action Response
The examiner gives the applicant a certain time period in which to respond. The applicant may make changes to the claims, address any issues identified by the examiner, and further argue for the patentability of the invention. They submit this position in a document referred to as an Office Action Response. The payment of extension fees can extend the time period for responding.
4. The Final Office Action
The examiner responds in one of several ways. They may issue another Office Action presenting new issues to be addressed, a Final Office Action, or the patent may be allowed. If they do issue a new Office Action or Final Office Action, the ball is in the applicant’s court and a response may be made. This process of rejection and response may, and often does, continue for several rounds between the applicant and the examiner.
5. Allowed or Abandoned
Next, the reviewers will either allow or abandon the patent. If no agreement can be made or a response is not timely filed, the applicant has the choice to abandon the application for patent. If, however, the examiner is satisfied that the invention has been properly described and claimed, a notice of allowance is given. After a certain time period, the patent issues and may be enforced from the date the application, or corresponding provisional patent application, was first filed.
For many, the information and process described above can be daunting. It may be hard to know what route is best when considering applying for a patent. A general and useful resource on the types of protection afforded by the government can be found at the USPTO website here. It is recommended that a patent attorney considers such things as timing, strategy, requirements, and cost to secure a well-tailored set of protections for their invention.
If you have any questions about the process of obtaining a patent, contact us here.
***This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Material presented herein are to provide readers with free information regarding the laws and concepts described. However, this post is not designed for the purpose of providing legal advice to individuals. Readers and visitors should not rely upon information provided in the post as a substitute for personal legal advice. If you have an individual legal question or situation, you should seek legal advice from a licensed attorney.