Updated November 11, 2020:

A patent certificate is a certified copy of an approved patent application provided by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Having patent protection allows you to legally prevent others from making, using, marketing, or selling your invention. If another person or entity infringes on your invention, you can seek damages in court.

How Is a Patent Obtained?

To obtain patent protection in the U.S., this is the process:

  • File a patent application that includes detailed, specific claims about your invention. You may want to retain the services of an experienced patent attorney.
  • A USPTO examiner will send you a non-final action if you need to provide additional information to satisfy objections about obviousness or novelty.
  • This process continues until the examiner is satisfied that the invention meets patentable criteria, at which point a patent is granted.

When Will I Receive My Patent Certificate?

Once your patent application has been approved by the USPTO, you'll receive a Notice of Allowance. Then, you must pay your issue fee before subsequently receiving your Issue Notification. The patent certificate with the USPTO seal will be mailed on the issue date.

If you have designated a patent attorney or agent as your power of attorney, he or she will receive the certificate as the attorney of record and should forward it to you. If no power of attorney has been designated, the intellectual property (IP) owner will receive the patent certificate at the address indicated on the application datasheet.

The Certificate Series plaque is a reproduction of the patent certificate. Extra patent certificates can be ordered from USPTO for $25 each. Each patent certificate contains the USPTO seal and director signature; you can also request it to include the names of the inventors and a corporate logo at no additional charge.

What Does Patent Protection Entail?

The claims about your invention as detailed in the patent application define and limit the patent protection you receive. Only properly supported disclosures will be protected in court, not all the information included in the patent application.

Most patents provide protection for 20 years from the filing date or 21 years from the date a provisional application was filed. To continue to enforce your patent, you must pay maintenance fees at 3.5-, 7.5-, and 11.5-year intervals from the issue date. If you fail to do so, your patent will expire.

How Do I Make Money From a Patent?

Because obtaining a patent can be costly, it's important to have a plan for marketing and selling your invention before seeking patent protection. You will need to commercialize your patent by licensing it to other companies or manufacturing and selling it yourself with the support of investors.

Finding businesses that want to license your patent can be challenging. Because major corporations have their own research and development departments staffed with engineers and scientists, they rarely purchase inventions from independent creators. It will be up to you to prove your invention has value.

If you need help with obtaining a patent, 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 such as Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.