The US patent prosecution timeline can depend on several factors, including the field of the patent. This timeline does not include how long it will actually take a person to acquire a patent, only the length of time needed for prosecution.

How Long to Get a Patent?

When you're considering filing for a patent, it's important that you perform a patentability search. If you hire someone else to perform this task, you will generally need to wait between one and three weeks before the search will be completed.

In most cases, drafting a patent application can take as little as two weeks and as long as a month. The amount of time it will take you to complete your application depends on if you have all the information necessary when you begin drafting.

Once you have completed and filed your application, you will need to wait for your patent to be granted, and the length of your waiting period can be influenced by several factors, including if you have filed a provisional or non-provisional patent application. If you file a non-provisional patent application, for instance, your application will be placed on a waiting list until it can be reviewed by a Patent Examiner.

There are several other issues that can impact how long it will take for your patent to be granted. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) groups patent applications based on the technology that they include, and some areas of technology have much shorter processing times than others.

You will not need to wait for your application to be examined if you file a provisional patent application. You will, however, be required to file your non-provisional patent application within a year of the filing date of your provisional patent. A certain amount of Track One patents, which include plant patents and utility patents, per year receive priority examination. If you want your patent to possibly receive priority examination, you will need to pay an additional fee to the USPTO.

Patent Prosecution Timeline

Many people want to know how long it can take to prosecute a United States patent. Unfortunately, this question can be hard to answer, as the prosecution timeline can be influenced in multiple ways:

  • Whether the patent application is provisional or non-provisional.
  • The technology that is covered by the patent.
  • The art unit to which the application is assigned.

The USPTO estimates that the length of time between patent pending status and the mailing of the first Office Action is usually between 18 and 27 months. The relative date in terms of the prosecution timeline depends on the type of patent application that is filed. For non-provisional utility patent applications, for example, the relative date is the date where the application was filed.

Milestones of the Patent Process

A provisional patent application must be filed no less than a year after public disclosure occurs. This will establish a priority date for the patent. Once the provisional patent application has been filed, you will have a year to file your non-provisional application. It is this application that will be reviewed by a Patent Examiner. If this review is successful, you will be issued your full patent.

In most cases, the Patent Examiner will issue an Office Action, which will tell you which claims in your application have been accepted and which have been rejected. After receiving the Office Action, you will have three months to respond. In your response, you will need to revise the rejected claims.

This process of receiving Office Action notices and providing your response to rejected claims can repeat several times during the application process. The length of the patent process can be very drawn out, and the longer it takes for your application to be approved and your patent issued, the more expenses you will occur.

Utility patent applications are the most common, and in general, it can take between one and three years for these applications to be fully reviewed. How long it takes to review your patent depends on how many patents are currently awaiting review by the USPTO. If you pay the required fee and are approved for priority examination, your utility patent should be reviewed in about six months.

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