The Patent Application Process: From Filing to Granting
While most people know that you must first file a patent application before a patent is granted, many people don’t know that there are many stages that a patent application will go through on its way to becoming an issued patent.
Preparation of the patent application
The preparation of the patent application itself can take anywhere from a few hours to many months, depending on the complexity of the invention and the amount of coverage desired. Patent applications have many parts to them, including drawings, written descriptions, declarations, claims, and so on. Patent attorneys typically prepare patent applications.
Filing of the patent application
Once the patent application is finalized and approved by the inventors, the application is ready to be filed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. All the parts of the patent application must be filed, and all applicable fees must be paid. Once a patent application is submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, it receives both a filing date and a patent application number. These can both be very important pieces of information.
Once a patent application is filed with the USPTO, it will first undergo pre-exam processing. Here, specialists at the USPTO will ensure that all it has received all parts of the application and that all fees have been paid. If any part of the application is missing, the USPTO will issue a Notice of Missing Parts and will set a timeline for the applicant to submit the missing parts and make the application proper.
Art Unit and Prosecution
Once the patent application has been approved by the pre-exam processing unit, it gets docketed to a specific art unit and a specific examiner. This is when prosecution begins. The examiner will review the written description, figures, and claims to ensure that the invention is patentable under US Patent Law. Typically, an Examiner will issue at least one office action in which they will try to identify ways in which an invention is unpatentable. A patent attorney will then prepare amendments, arguments, and responses to try and convince the Examiner otherwise. Prosecution can last anywhere from a few months to several years.
Once a patent application is allowed and the issue fee is paid, it then receives its patent number and moves to FDC (final document capture). This unit of the USPTO is responsible for renumbering claims in chronological order, ensuring that the written description accurately reflects the application as it stands allowed, and ensuring in general that the application is ready to become an issued patent.
Once the application is allowed and has progressed through FDC, the patent application is ready to be issued as a Patent. Patents are always issued on Tuesdays.
Questions about the patent applications? Contact us today for guidance through each step of the process!