So you’ve finally worked through the process of proving the usefulness of your invention and have filed your non-provisional patent application. The battle to secure protection from any competitors you may have on the market will soon be over, right? Sadly, a great deal of innovators in your position choose to believe this, only to later find out the actual patent approval process can be long and drawn-out to the point of actually making the discovery and development of the product seem quick and easy.
As is the case with any proud owner, you’re likely very protective or your innovation, and thus may take the slow progression of its approval personally. You shouldn’t be; just know this final phase will vary depending on what type of patent you’re seeking. Design patents are typically processed faster, with the average time to resolution only taking about four to six months. Utility patents, on the other hand, usually take at least 12-18 months to approve. You can expedite this process, however, by choosing to pay to have your application placed on Track One examination. This could potentially cost you up to $3,000 on top of your standard filing fees. Yet if you’re in a rush to get your product approved, paying extra now may prove to be worth it in the long run.
Before examining the details of what happens after you file for your patent, it’s important to remember that once you have filed, you cannot add anything to your application. This includes any further text drawings related to your product. Thus, if you’re waiting for any outstanding research or testing results to prove your product’s usefulness, you may want to hold off on filing until after you’ve received them.
The process of reviewing patent applications can be broken down into the following stages:
Stage 1 – Examination
Your application is first reviewed for completeness. If it’s discovered you’re missing any vital information, you’ll receive one of two notices. A Notice of Missing Parts simply tells you what information is needed, assigns a due date for its re-submission, and gives you a new filing date. A Notice of Omitted Items, however, states there are inaccuracies between your initial provisional filing and your non-provisional application. These could require you to start the application process all over again. This is why many recommend getting an attorney to review your application before submission.
If you haven’t missed or omitted any details, your application will then be reviewed to see if it describes a single or multiple inventions. If you have multiple inventions, you may be required to file a divisional application for other inventions described. While you’ll have to pay a filing fee for each invention, your filing date remains the same for all of them.
Stage 2 – Prosecution
The examination period is by far the most lengthy of the patent approval process. Once you’ve received a First Office Action on the Merits from the USPTO, the prosecution stage then begins. This will detail whether all of your claims are available to patent, whether none of them are, or if there is a mix. It may contain suggested changes from the examiner that could earn you a complete approval. If you choose to follow them, you can file a Request for Continuing Examination to keep the same application open. You’re given three months to respond to the First Office Action without an added fee, or six months with one.
Stage 3 – Resolution
At the resolution stage, you’ll either see all of your patented claims approved, or simply some of them. If you’re rejected, you are allowed to appeal for the right to amend your claim to adopt any suggested changes you choose not to address earlier in the process.
While the patent approval process can linger, don’t let it discourage you from giving up. Regardless of the final ruling, you’ve put a lot of time and effort into getting to this point. Your patent approval should be considered the reward for all of that hard work. A denial should simply be taken as incentive to go back and perfect the product to the point of having it ready to ace the process as soon as possible.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.