What is a Patent?
When most people think of a patent, they think of a utility patent. A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the US Government to an inventor "to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the US or importing the invention for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted."
In fact, there are three types of patents. Utility patents are granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. A design patent is granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. A plant patent is granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.
What cannot be patented
Laws of nature, Physical phenomena, Abstract ideas, Literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works (these can be Copyright protected).
Inventions which are not useful (such as perpetual motion machines) or offensive to public morality.
The utility patent begins when granted and ends 20 years after the filing/priority date if the maintenance fees are maintained. The design patent begins when granted and ends 15 years later. A plant patent protects an asexually created man-made plant. A plant patent begins when granted and normally ends 20 years after the application filing date.
What are the requirements for a Patent?
The invention must be useful, Novel, non-obvious, adequately described in an application, and claimed by the inventor in clear and definite terms. In addition, the invention must not be publicly known more than one year before the patent application is filed. For example, if you have been selling the invention for two years, you cannot get a patent on it.
How do I know my invention is patentable?
Patentability decisions on applications are made by the Patent Office. You file an application and make a case for patentability during the application process. To form a judgment whether an invention is patentable, you can search previous public disclosures (prior art) including US patents. After the search is made, a review is made to determine the likelihood of obtaining a patent. Statistically, over 50% of utility applications eventually become patents. Design patents have an even higher rate of success.
After an application is filed, the Patent Office conducts its own search as part of the official examination process. The Patent Office will then form its own opinion on patentability and issue an office action.
How long does it take to get a patent?
This is difficult to determine because the time from application to the grant of a patent varies widely based on what kind of patent it is, complications during the application process, examiner rejections and requirements, the patent backlog in the particular examining group, etc. However, a rough estimate for a utility patent is 20 to 36 months from the application filing date.
What are the fees charged by Loen Patent Services, LLC?
Each invention/patent application is unique and it is not possible to publish a fixed fee that applies to all applications. However, typical fees and ranges will give you an idea of the likely fees:
Patent Application (simple-moderately complicated)
Utility Patent Search: $950-$1,200
Office action response: $900-$1,900
USPTO Correspondence: $300-$600
Phone calls/emails: No charge
These fees are in addition to any USPTO fees.
What are the Patent Office fees to obtain a patent?
The Patent Office can change their fees related to patent applications without prior notice, but an abbreviated list for 2023 is:
Provisional Application: $60/$120
Utility Application: $364/$664
Design Application: $204/$408
For: Micro Entity/Small Entity
See Micro Entity for an additional explanation.
Most first time patent filers with Gross Incomes less than $ 150,162 (2022 tax filing) qualify for Micro Entity status.
What are typical steps to obtain a US utility patent?
Often, the patent application process will follow these general steps:
1. Utility application filed at the USPTO.
2. Examiner at Patent Office examines application and issues first office action.
3. If the examination is favorable, examiner sends out notice of allowance. If not favorable, the examiner sends out a rejection giving 3 months for a response.
4. Applicant files a response to the office action arguing for patentability.
5. After receiving the response, examiner re-examines application and issues another office action. If favorable, examiner sends out a notice of allowance. If not favorable, applicant files additional response to argue patentability.
6. Examiner and applicant continue this process until the application is allowed, the applicant files an appeal, or the applicant discontinues. This process may include filing requests for continued examination (RCE), various appeals, and other papers which involve additional fees. Each patent situation is unique and may deviate from the above steps.
Does a US patent provide patent protection in other countries?
No. An applicant may also choose to file a Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT) application to start the international application process. The applicant must file a PCT application within 12 months of the US application filing date. If the applicant wishes to obtain patent protection in foreign countries, the applicant should be prepared for significant expense ($5,000 to $15,000) in each country.
Is there a way to hurry up the patent process?
Yes. A utility application can be hurried up by filing a request to 'make special' for an inventor that is at least 65 years old. No additional fee is required.
Also, the USPTO offers a 'pay to play' option by filing a Track One request. This requires additional fees of $868/$1,736 (micro/small entity) based on entity status. Currently, the USPTO averages a first examination in about 7-8 months of filing.
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