Patent Filing: A Step-By-Step Guide

By Asad Awan4 min read · Posted Apr 9, 2024

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Innovation has been the cornerstone of human development since the dawn of time – introducing new solutions to age-old problems. Inventors use innovations to transform ideas into concrete solutions. To promote progress and encourage ongoing innovation, governing authorities offer patents to inventors to protect their ideas.

Patents are legal safeguards that protect an invention from exploitation. Inventors file an application to the patent office which includes the invention's title, the inventor's name, a brief description, and proposed claims, highlighting unique features of the invention.

In exchange for disclosure, a patent grants inventors exclusive rights to their work for a limited time. In this article, we will delve into the basic understanding of patents and the filing process of patents.

What is a patent?

A patent is a form of exclusive intellectual property right a government grants to inventors. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, this right allows inventors to use their inventions for a limited time, usually 20 years from the filing date, in exchange for a disclosure. Patents empower inventors to legally prevent anyone from making, using, selling, or distributing their invention without permission.

Patents protect different inventions, such as goods, techniques, procedures, material compositions, and enhancements. According to the United States Code, a patent can be granted to “whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter.” So, to be eligible for a patent, an invention must strictly satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Novelty: The invention must be a new creation that has yet to be made public before the patent filing date.
  2. Non-obviousness: The invention must have an inventive, unique step that is not obvious to anyone skilled in the relevant field.
  3. Utility: The invention must have a practical use or application in some industry.

How to file a patent?

Patent filing is a multifaceted process that requires careful attention to detail and adherence to legal standards. Although the process may vary slightly from patent to patent and place to place, it generally follows a series of specific steps.

Here is a USPTO’s step-by-step guide to how to file a patent:

Conduct comprehensive research

Conducting thorough research and understanding patent requirements are vital before initiating the patent filing process. This means searching patent databases, scientific literature, and other sources to find and identify any similar inventions or existing knowledge that may question the invention’s originality or impact the patent filing process. This step ensures that the invention is original and not previously patented.

Draft the patent application

After thorough research, the next step is preparing the application. This stage is crucial because the quality and comprehensiveness of the application affect the chances of obtaining a patent.

In general, a patent application comprises the following key elements:

  1. Title: A concise and descriptive title clearly stating the invention's intent.
  2. Inventor(s): A list of all inventors involved in the invention.
  3. Field of the Invention: A reference to a broad generic field the invention belongs to.
  4. Description: A detailed description of the invention, highlighting its technical details, mechanism, and other unique features. This section may include drawings, diagrams, equations, or other forms of illustrations.
  5. Claims: The claims define the legal boundaries of the patent. This section also outlines unique aspects of the invention, qualifying it for a patent.

File the patent application

The third step is to apply for the patent after careful preparation. The application is submitted to the relevant patent office, such as the US Patent and Trademark Office, for examination to determine if it meets all formal criteria.

Once filed, the invention is deemed "patent pending." During this stage, the invention receives some protection while the application undergoes review. If time is of the essence, an inventor can file a provisional patent application, temporarily securing the invention.

After the application, the office examines the application to assess if the invention is eligible. During this stage, the examiner may request additional details or changes to the application from either the filer or the inventor(s). This examination process includes a thorough review to ascertain whether the invention fulfills the necessary standards of novelty, non-obviousness, and utility.

Respond to office actions

If the patent office sends out office action during the examination stage, it means they are asking for more details, highlighting issues, or requesting changes to the application. At this stage, the applicant must promptly and effectively answer the office questions, address concerns the examiner raises, and advance the application closer to approval.

Pay for the patent

After completing the application process and addressing all objections raised by the patent office, the application moves to the grant phase. During this phase, the patent office issues a notice of allowance informing the applicant that their patent application has been allowed (or approved). This notification specifies the issue fee and publication fee, which must be paid by the applicant to the patent office, usually within three months.

After all the necessary payments, the office grants the patent to the applicant, giving the inventor(s) exclusive rights to their invention for a specific period.

Maintain the patent

Once the Patent Office grants the patent, the inventor is officially responsible for maintaining it by paying regular renewal fees. This payment is often prescribed during the examination phase of the application process. If the filer fails to make necessary payments in due time, the patent lapses and the inventor can lose the patent's legal protection.

Conclusion

Patents are vital to an inventor's work as they legally safeguard their work, foster progress, and ensure the authenticity and originality. The process may be multifaceted, complex, and demanding, but it is essential.

With the rapid pace of technological advancements, the significance of patents will likely grow. Understanding the patent system and carefully following the application filing procedure will help inventors innovate without fear reflecting a culture that rewards innovation – a tool for a better tomorrow.

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Asad Awan

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Our organization cannot give out official legal/fiscal guidance. All articles are written by volunteers and it may be beneficial to contact professionals to assist your understanding of the information and to guide your action. Pitch Labs bears no responsibility for the results of actions taken based off of article content or any other form of assistance given.