Application For Patent On Utility Inventions At The United States Patent And Trademark Office
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If you have a good idea for an invention, a patent is still a very good and effective way to safeguard against intellectual property squatters, copy-catters and imitators. If you are planning on applying for a patent on your invention, you need to be aware of three essential phase in the process of converting an invention into a patent. Those phases are searching, drafting and filing. This article is a brief overview of the filing phase, and in particular, the several choices afforded to an inventor in filing a utility application for a patent. This article covers US national filing and not choices and procedure for an international application for a patent or a PCT application. Filing can get tricky and retaining a competent patent attorney in your area is highly recommended. Furthermore, if you are a “serial” inventor, you may be precluded from claiming access to discounted filing fees

When filing for a patent you have four basic choices:

Regular Filing:

Regular filing of a non-provisional application for a patent entails the lowest filing fee and the simplest filing procedure. The application joins the queue of filed patent applications and waits its turn to be examined by a Patent Office examiner. That turn may not arrive until a year and a half to two years after the initial filing. Disposition of applications under this form of filing is between three and five years. However, unlike other choices listed below, this is the most flexible form of filing for a patent available.

Petition to Make Special:

The inventor may be able to speed up examination without paying significantly more. A petition to examine applications out of order may be available in some cases of health, age or particular subject matter. Check with your patent attorney whether you can benefit from such a petition a petition of this sort does not carry a charge. In fact, there are no additional charges or limitations, provided that health, age, or subject matter (either of the three) comply with the requirements. Disposition of applications under this form of filing is approximately twelve months, but can sometimes take longer.

Prioritized Examination or Track One

If time is of the essence and the application does not qualify for special considerations, and accelerated examination seems like too much work, you may apply for the Prioritized Examination aka Track One Examination. Prioritized examination requires ability to file applications electronically. This is essentially a standard non-provisional utility patent application, except that most fees are paid up front. There are conditions that must be met in order to qualify for this filing, and these are strictly enforced. There is substantial prioritized examination fee. Only a finite number of such applications are granted each year on a first come first serve basis. This type of patent application has zero room for filing error. Fees paid for an application that was deemed incomplete are not refundable. So having a capable patent attorney to file this patent application on your behalf is essential. The disposition from filing to issuance of a patent is set to approximately twelve months.

Accelerated Examination

This is probably the most difficult filing patent processes. The main source of difficulty is that the inventor must actually perform a large portion of prior art search and analysis and supply the patent office with a detailed report regarding prior art (inventions that already exist in the public space) and how the invention overcomes it. There are other filing prerequisites, including a petition to allow for acceleration and prepayment of all filing fees. However, the accelerated examination process is more tolerant of filing mistakes and is only subject to the additional fee to cover the cost of the petition. If the inventor and/or his attorney had already done the prior art search analysis during the patent search or feasibility search phases, filing for an accelerated examination should entail minimum amount of additional work.

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