What is the process for obtaining a U.S. Patent?

traverselegal - March 16, 2015 - Patent

Obtaining a patent in the U.S. can be a very time-consuming and expensive process that typically involves several steps.  Prior to filing a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), it is best to first find out whether your invention has already been patented.  A patent search is a good way of determining what has already been patented and/or published at the USPTO.  Assuming favorable results from the patent search, the next step involves both determining what type of patent application to file and developing a filing strategy for that particular application.  There are many factors involved in developing a complete patent filing strategy, such as your business goals for the invention, the jurisdiction in which you are trying to obtain patent protection, and whether there are any immediate filing deadlines for your invention.

Once a filing strategy has been developed, it is crucial to make sure that the proper USPTO forms are correctly completed and that the correct inventors are listed on the patent application.  Also, you will need to determine which USPTO fee structure is right for you or your business.

After drafting and filing either a utility, design, or plant patent application with the USPTO, your application will be assigned to an examiner.  The examiner will perform a substantive examination of your application to determine whether your invention is patentable in the U.S. and should be allowed.  In most instances, the examiner will not allow the patent application without issuing at least one Office Action.  The applicant will then be presented with an opportunity to respond to the examiner’s Office Action.  Upon filing a response, the examiner will again consider whether the patent application should be allowed or whether an additional Office Action should be issued.

If all of the examiner’s objections and rejections are overcome, the USPTO will send the applicant a Notice of Allowance along with the fees that are due.  In order for the USPTO to grant the patent, the applicant must pay the necessary USPTO fees.  After the patent is granted, the patent owner will be required to pay several maintenance fees in order to maintain an active U.S. patent with the USPTO.

The patent attorneys at Traverse Legal can help you navigate through this complex patent process.  Feel free to contact one of your experienced patent attorneys to conduct an initial patent assessment on your invention and to obtain patent strategy recommendations for your invention.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Enrico Schaefer, who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a practicing Business, IP, and Technology Law litigation attorney.