You’ve suddenly thought of a great idea and want to turn your idea into a reality – an invention – and protecting it by receiving a patent. The process of receiving a patent can be lengthy, and difficult, but is ultimately worthwhile. You just have to know what steps to take when submitting a patent application.
Submitting the Patent Application
To begin the patent process in the U.S., an individual must first file a patent application. Though an applicant can file for a non-provisional patent application without high-quality drawings at the time of the filing, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) requires all applicants to at least submit a full description of the Invention, referred to as a specification.
The USPTO will review the application to ensure it has been properly submitted. All applications must include:
- A specification that includes a minimum of one claim;
- An inventor’s oath that they are the true Inventor;
- The required official fees; and
- Drawings – to illustrate the aspects of the invention.
The Patent Examiner
After an application is properly submitted, it is then sent to a patent examiner, whose job is to inspect the merits of the patent.
The examiner checks the application for any restrictions. These commonly occur when an applicant claims inventions that are unrelated or related but potentially capable of being used as separate inventions. Since only one invention can be filed for at once, the examiner will ensure that the applicant chooses which invention to proceed with for this application.
The examiner then performs a search and looks for any deficiencies. When the applicant receives the First Office Action, he or she must remedy the defects in the application and submit a response within three months. Applicants can obtain an extension but the response time cannot exceed a period of six months. The applicant may not add anything to the original application – only remedy any existing defects.
The USPTO can again deny the application. Generally speaking the second Official Action on the Merits and is a Final Office Action (rejection). To overcome the Final Office Action, an applicant can submit a Request for Continued Examination (RCE). Ultimately, the goal is to convince the examiner to issue them a Notice of Allowance. If all else fails, an applicant may appeal the examiner’s decision to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.
Posted in: Patents