The procedure for filing patent application may vary greatly from one invention to another. It is essential that you know exactly what you need to do to obtain a patent for your invention because it can help you save time and effort, increase your chances of having your application approved, and prevent infringement of your patent.

What Is the Patent System?

The patent system was established for the purpose of protecting and promoting innovation and economic growth. By obtaining a patent, you will be able to fully exploit your invention's commercial potential. Some types of inventions can be commercialized without a patent, while others absolutely need a patent to provide commercial entities exclusivity in exchange for investment in product development. A patent gives its holder an exclusive right as well as the right to exclude other entities from practicing the invention.

What Is Required to Patent an Invention?

If you want to patent your idea, you are required to fulfill the novelty legal requirement. This means that your invention must not be anticipated or identical to an invention described in a piece of prior art.

Another requirement for getting a patent is that it must be non-obvious, which means that it must be sufficiently different from the prior art so it is not obvious in relation to the prior art.

In addition, a patent should meet a utility legal requirement. This means that it must serve a useful purpose. Almost all inventions fulfill the utility requirement, which has largely been imposed to prevent “quack inventions” such as perpetual-motion machines from being patented.

Why Is a Patent Application Important?

A provisional patent application is one type of patent application filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It is a simplified filing that requires a lower initial investment and allows the inventor to assess the commercial potential of his or her invention before filing for a non-provisional patent, which incurs a higher cost. This type of filing does not require an oath or declaration, formal patent claim, or information disclosure statement.

Generally, a provisional patent application enables an inventor to set an effective filing date for a non-provisional patent application in advance and hold his or her invention's place in line while he or she decides whether to apply for a non-provisional patent.

What Is the Procedure for Filing Patent Application?

A provisional patent is valid for 12 months, starting from the date the application is filed, and it cannot be extended. As such, an inventor who files a provisional patent application must submit a non-provisional application within the 12-month period in which the provisional patent is effective in order to take advantage of the earlier filing of the provisional patent application.

When filing a provisional patent application, an inventor should provide as complete a disclosure as possible of his or her invention. Although the written description and drawings in a provisional patent application do not have to be identical to the disclosure in a later-filed non-provisional patent application, the non-provisional patent application is limited to the subject matter covered in the provisional patent application.

How Does One Apply for a Non-Provisional Patent?

A non-provisional patent application can be submitted to the director of the USPTO. It typically consists of:

  • A written document containing an oath or declaration, and a specification, which includes a description and claims.
  • Drawings in cases that require a drawing.
  • Payment of search, filing, and examination fees.

The specification must conclude with one or more claims that specifically identifies and clearly claims the subject matter that defines the invention. It should also state that the claims are an essential part of the patent application, as they determine the scope of protection provided by the patent. The costs incurred in preparing and filing a non-provisional patent application may vary significantly depending on a number of factors, such as the completeness of the disclosure submitted to the patent attorney and the complexity of the invention.

All non-provisional patent applications filed at the USPTO are numbered sequentially. Upon submitting an application, the applicant will receive a filing receipt that contains the filing date and application number. On average, the time between the filing date and the date on which an application begins to undergo examination is about 20 months. Depending on the workload in the specific technology area, the time can be 3 years or more.

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