The device or process for which a patent is granted starts with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It grants a person complete ownership rights to their intellectual property for a certain amount of time. Lawsuits can occur if someone other than the patent owner uses, creates, or sells their idea or invention without authorization.

Decide on a Type of Patent

  • Utility
    • Most common
    • Original, valuable or improved product, invention, or process
    • Own rights for 20 years
    • Combination of five types:
      • Machine
      • Manufacture
      • Process
      • Chemical Compositions
      • Enhancing an existing idea
  • Design
    • Unique design enhancing a product
    • Doesn't add function
    • Adds to the product's appearance
    • Effective for 14 years
  • Plant
    • Least common
    • New and unique invented varieties of asexually bred plants to create multiple copies, either exact or crossbreeds.
    • Last for 20 years

A patent gives innovative security to a company, allowing any size business to continue to advance and thrive against their peers.

Evaluate Patent Requirements

The Patent and Trademark Office determines if an invention can be patented by three requirements.

  1. Fulfills the utility criteria
  2. Is unique
  3. Must be new and unfamiliar to the average population. Perform a search on your patent prior to applying for a patent to save time and money if it is already in use. If not in use, the search can support its significance with additional facts.

Choose an Application

  1. Non-provisional are reviewed and either approved or denied by the PTO. A long and difficult process that must include the following: a record detailing its design, at least one claim, at least one drawing, a declaration or oath, and fees for searching, filing, and examination of the application.
  2. Provisional applications never become a patent; they stay pending for one year. The PTO is not involved with this application type. Applicants are required to register a long-term application stating the significance of the temporary application.
    • Advantages:
      • Quick, simple, and informal
      • Allows applicants an extra year to improve their creation
      • Excludes an oath, announcement, or claims
      • Cheaper
      • Protected with as pending

Preparing a Non-Provisional Application

This must include a document of comprehensive design process and specifications that are easy to understand, specs including pictures, examples, or drawings, and explain in detail the exact enhancements and basic details.

Patent Application Sections:

  1. Title
  2. Cross-reference to similar submissions
  3. Statement of national protection
  4. Joint research agreement information
  5. Guide to sequence or computer program listings
  6. Background
  7. Outline of the creation
  8. Explanation of the drawings
  9. Detailed explanation of the invention
  10. One or more rights
  11. An abstract

Foreign Patents

U.S. patents don't apply in other countries, allowing for products to be sold or manufactured abroad. While foreign patents take longer to get and are more difficult, generally companies choose copyright security in China, Japan, Europe, and Canada. The European Patent Office offers patents that include most countries in Europe.

An International Convention allows for timely processing in another country given all required documents are submitted within a year. An international patent usually demands complete ownership of an invention. To keep an invention unique, file for a U.S. patent application before releasing it to the public.

An International application is filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty.

Reply to Communications from PTO

Non-provisional patents can take a few years before consideration. Some or all the requests are usually rejected at first. The PTO inspector releases an office action, and the applicant is required to provide a written response with changes to the requests and clarifications on the debated issues. This process can take three years or longer.

Accelerating the Application Examination

Applications usually have a long wait time or 2 or more years before it's examined. The process can be shortened; however, it is expensive, costing up to $4,000 excluding regular application fees. The Patent Prosecution Highway helps to shorten this procedure by sharing information between offices.

  • Requirements:
    • Must be utility or plant
    • Non-provisional
    • Excludes reissue, design, provisional, and reexamination applications
    • A Track I prioritized evaluation request -- new application.
    • A request for continued examination -- prior submissions
    • No more than four individual requests
    • Thirty claims total
    • No multiple dependent requests

Requirements can be avoided if the patent is considered "Petition Made Special."

  • No fee if person is over 65, in poor health, or if the economy or environment will improve from the invention
  • Considered before prior filings
  • Uncommon
    • Candidates aren't allowed to debate
    • Restricted to less than three individual claims and less than 20 entireties
    • Must report that overseas patent documents, non-patent sources, and U.S. patents and patent submissions were checked prior to filing
    • Provide an Information Disclosure Statement

If you need help with the device or process for which a patent is granted, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.