Updated October 26, 2020:

What is a Notice of Allowance?

A Notice of Allowance is a document sent to a patent applicant from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) after a patent examiner has decided to issue the requested patent. The Notice of Allowance comes after the inventor has turned in a patent application and provided all information about the invention. This information includes the patent's description, design, drawings, or blueprints.

Since the Notice of Allowance shows the application is complete and meets all requirements, it is the final step in the long and complex patent application process. Your patent application has been fully reviewed and your invention has been given the green light for patenting. All that's left is to pay remaining fees and send any drawing corrections.

When a USPTO examiner feels an invention qualifies for a patent, he or she prepares a Notice of Allowance. When mailed to the inventor, the notice's mailing date is electronically recorded. If it will be published, the application requires both a publication and issue fee. Any fee requirements are listed in the Notice of Allowance. Applicants are also reminded to send an extra copy of the "Notice of Allowance and Fees Due" form when paying fees.

Once the issue fee has been paid, you'll be sent an Issue Notification letting you know your patent number and its anticipated issue date. Any extra patent applications based on the original "parent" application will need to be filed before the parent patent issue.

Eighteen months or more after the patent application's earliest filing date, the USPTO will publish the patent and it will be on public file.

What's Included in a Notice of Allowance?

The notice of allowance consists of three sections: the header, section B, and a series of notes.

  • The header identifies the inventor, the invention, and the patent case number.
  • Section B identifies the fees due in order to complete the patent process. You must complete section B and return it to the USPTO within the specified timeframe.
  • The series of notes included in the notice of allowance indicate the due date for any requested paperwork and fees.

Issuance of the Notice of Allowance

According to Section 13(b)(2) of the Trademark Act, the Notice of Allowance is provided if the application is not opposed. The notice is an intent-to-use application informing the inventor that the patent will be issued about eight weeks from the marked publishing date. The Notice of Allowance is important because its issue date establishes the priority date for filing a statement of use. The USPTO never publishes any information about a Notice of Allowance in the Official Gazette.

The information contained in the Notice of Allowance must be correct. Any errors should be pointed out as soon as possible. As an applicant, if you fail to file a statement of use on time or ask for an extension, the entire patent application will be abandoned.

Intent-to-Use Applications in Commerce

When a trademark is published under the applicant's intention to use it in commerce but no one files an extension request or opposition, the USPTO will issue a notice of allowance about 12 weeks from the trademark's publication date. As the applicant, you then have six months to use the trademark commercially and submit a statement of use or request a six-month extension.

The notice of allowance is an official written notification from the USPTO that your trademark survived the opposition period after publication in the Official Gazette and has been allowed. However, it doesn't mean the trademark is registered yet. The notice of allowance is simply another step toward registration.

Why is a Notice of Allowance Important?

Not only does the Notice of Allowance tell the applicant that his or her patent will be issued, but it also requests specified issue fees be paid within three months from the allowance's mailing date. Since the last deadline cannot be extended and failing to pay the fee results in losing the patent, the Notice of Allowance is a crucial document you'll want to be on the lookout for. The total amount of fees you'll need to pay varies depending on the type of patent and whether clarifications or amendments are needed.

The Notice of Allowance is so important that if it is returned to the USPTO for any reason, a new one is sent out with the file reflecting the new remailing date. The document also can't be withheld if the inventor dies and the executor doesn't intervene.

What Happens When an Applicant Files a Statement of Use or Extension on Time vs. When the Applicant Doesn't?

Given that you have six months from the notice of allowance's mailing date to file your statement of use or extension, you should proceed immediately after receiving the notice of allowance.

However, if you're not currently using the mark in commerce on the services or goods listed in the application, you should file an extension request and required fees to avoid having your trademark abandoned. Extensions are given in six-month increments, so you must continue to file an extension every six months up to the maximum amount of five extension requests.

If you are using the trademark commercially, file the statement of use and all fees within six months of the notice of allowance. You cannot withdraw your statement of use, but you may file one extension request along with the statement of use to buy more time to overcome any deficiencies in your statement.

If you don't file your extension request or statement of use on time, the application is no longer pending and you lose the trademark. To continue the application process, you'll have to revive the application within two months of the abandonment date with a petition.

Steps to File

Responding to the Notice of Allowance is an easy process.

Once you receive the notice, you're instructed on how to pay the issue fee and submit revised or final drawings of your invention. As long as you send the USPTO the requested fees and drawings within three months from the Notice of Allowance's mail date, obtaining your patent is the next and last step.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does it mean when my patent application is allowed?

When your patent application is allowed, this means your invention checks out and the patent request is valid and enforceable under patent law. An examiner will check the application to be sure there's no confusion in the scope of the patent. This is why it's important to include as much information as possible in the patent application without exaggerating the scope of the invention defined in the claims.

  • What happens when the USPTO decides to issue me a patent?

After final examinations, the USPTO will prepare and mail a Notice of Allowance, which informs you that your invention is ready to be patented.

  • How do I figure out my issue and publication fees?

You won't know your issue or publication fees until the Notice of Allowance is issued. The amount of any required fees is shown on the Notice of Allowance document. The form will also show any previously paid fees in the application. Ifan issue fee was already paid, returning the Fee Transmittal form will be considered a request to put the already paid fee toward the current issue fee.

  • What if I don't file my statement of use on time?

Failing to send your statement of use or an extension request within the three-month period after the Notice of Allowance results in your patent application becoming void, which is also called "abandoned." There is no way to get an extension once the date has passed.

  • Can I hold off on having my patent issued?

The USPTO lets you defer your patent's issue, upon request, for up to one month. In the event of extraordinary circumstances, you could defer for a longer period. Trying to buy time to file in foreign countries, negotiate licenses, and collect data for continuation-in-part applications are not considered extraordinary circumstances.

  • What happens after I've paid the issue fee?

Utility and reissue patents are typically issued four weeks after the USPTO has received the final issue and publication fees. You will get an issue date and patent number on the application. You'll also receive an Issue Notification after all fees are paid and processed. This notification is often mailed less than two weeks before the application issues a patent, so you should file any continuing application before getting the Issue Notification in the mail.

If you're finding the patent application process hard to understand, post a question in UpCounsel's marketplace. You can post your legal need here and our affordable expert patent lawyers can help you prepare for your Notice of Allowance and important filing dates to make the process as smooth as possible.