The Patent Process
Undertaking the patent application process can be arduous, but knowing what to expect can make the patent process a bit easier. While each individual company’s experience with the patent applicaiton process is going to be unique, you will almost certainly experience these seven basic steps when you undertake the patent process.
At Priori, we are dedicated to helping you find the best patent lawyer in our network to help you through the patent filing process.
Step 1: Make sure that the patent application is an appropriate choice for your IP needs.
Just because you have important intellectual property does not automatically mean that a patent is your best protection option. In some cases, your invention may not qualify for a patent due to its similarity to already-existing technologies. In other cases, relying on trade secret law or other protection methods may work better. Even once you determine that a patent is right for you, it is important to understand and decide which type of patent is most appropriate for your unique situation.
Step 2: Hire a patent lawyer you trust.
Although it may be possible to go through the patent filing process without a patent lawyer, you are likely to run into significant problems or setbacks. Many startups are tempted to wait until the last possible moment to hire a patent lawyer in an attempt to save money, but this leads to more problems than it solves. Hiring a lawyer to walk you through the patent process can cost thousands of dollars, but attempting to save money by doing a portion yourself may ultimately increase your costs because mistakes often require significantly more time and money to fix.
Step 3: Collect the preliminary information and do a patent search.
Before filing for a patent, you must ensure that your intellectual property is truly patentable— that is, new, useful, and non-obvious. To determine whether your invention can be protected by a patent, you will need to conduct a patent search. While it may be useful to do a preliminary search on your own, this should always be done by a professional for the purposes of the patent application process. Far too often, inventors try to do a patent search on their own and miss key problems that can lead to a rejection. Your patent lawyer will often do this for you or hire a professional they trust.
Step 4: Decide if you want to file a provisional patent application.
An early filing date can sometimes be vital in protecting your product. A provisional patent is an easy way to secure protection for your intellectual property while you finish the longer patent filing process required to receive a non-provisional patent.
Step 5: Prepare and submit the initial non-provisional patent application.
Your patent application will need to include:
- a short abstract of the invention
- a write-up referencing any prior applications
- discussion of the general field, background, and circumstances surrounding the invention
- a detailed summary of the invention
- a description and drawing of the basic implementation of the invention
- the claims and legal dimensions and limits of your invention
Step 6: Work with the USPTO examiner to fix any deficiencies.
If your application is incomplete, the USPTO will notify you of any deficiencies through an official letter known as an Office Action. The Office Action will detail the problems with your application and recommend solutions. After this, you will usually have about 6 months to respond or the USPTO will terminate your patent application.
If your response fails to remedy the problem, you will receive a final Office Action. This will inform you that you have failed to address or overcome all issues highlighted by the USPTO. If you receive a final Office Action, you must comply with its requirements or appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board within a given time period. Otherwise, the USPTO will not accept your patent application.
Step 7: Receive your notice of allowance and pay your issue fee.
After your patent has been approved, you will find out through a notice of allowance. Once you pay your issue fee to the USPTO, your patent will officially come into force.
Depending on the complexity of what you would like to protect with a patent and the type of patent you need, the cost of the patent application process can vary significantly. When you hire a lawyer in the Priori network, a patentability search will typically cost anywhere from $400 to $3,000. A provisional patent application can cost from $600 to $3,500, while a non-provisional patent application may cost from $4,750 to $20,000. Design patent applications tend to be significantly less expensive, and they can range from $945 to $2,000. In order to get a better sense of cost for your particular situation, put in a request to schedule a complimentary consultation and receive a free price quote from one of our lawyers.
How do I decide on a patent lawyer?
When you choose a patent lawyer, you are choosing the person who will ultimately hold the future of your invention in their hands.Therefore, it is important to find the right patent lawyer to walk you through the patent process. There are several factors to consider:
- Do they serve my specific needs?
Just like any professional, intellectual property lawyers have specializations. Consider the industry they specialize in (someone may have biotech expertise but not engineering expertise, for example), the scope of your patent project, and what kind of long-term relationship you want to develop when making this determination. The lawyer must also be registered to practice in front of the USPTO.
- Do I personally trust them?
Once you have a shortlist of candidates, it is important to choose a lawyer who makes you feel comfortable. That’s why personal interviews are key in helping you finalize your decision to hire a particular candidate.
What happens if I make a mistake during the patent process?
Mistakes happen. That’s why the USPTO builds in several steps where you can make corrections or changes in order to better ensure that you receive patent protection. Still, even when they can be remedied, these mistakes can mean a longer and more costly patent filing process. The best way to minimize mistakes and ensure a smooth and efficient patent application process is to hire an experienced patent lawyer.