20 Tips for Obtaining a Patent in the United States
20 Tips for Obtaining a Patent in the United States
If you are an inventor or an innovator, then protecting your innovation is important as this ensures that you not only get credit for innovation but that you can also get to benefit from all your hard work as covered over at runrex.com. If you are wondering how you can obtain a patent in the United States, then the following 20 tips should be of great help to you.
Do you need a patent?
The first thing you need to do is determine the type of intellectual property protection you need. As covered over at guttulus.com, to protect your invention, you may need a patent, trademark, copyright, trade secrets, marketing plan, or any combination of these. Before you start preparing a patent application, you should find out if you really need a patent or some other form of IP protection.
Is your invention patentable?
Next up, you need to determine if your invention is patentable or not. As per discussions on the same over at runrex.com, an invention cannot be patented the invention was known or used by others in the US or patented or described in a printed publication in the US or a foreign country, before the application for a patent. An invention can also not be patented if the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or public use or on sale in the US or a foreign country or public use or on sale in the US more than one year before the application for patent in the United States.
What cannot be patented?
You also need to know some of the things that cannot be patented by the USPTO. As discussed over at guttulus.com, laws of nature, physical phenomena, abstract ideas, as well as literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. as these can be copyrighted rather than patented. Inventions that are not useful or offensive to public morality cannot be patented as well.
What makes an invention patentable?
It is important to know that an invention must also be novel, non-obvious, and useful to be patented. Additionally, the invention must be adequately described or enabled (for one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention) as well as claimed by the inventor in terms that are clear and definite.
The next thing you should do, after ascertaining that your invention is patentable, is to search to see if your invention has already been publicly disclosed. Remember, as already mentioned, you cannot get a patent if your invention has already been publicly disclosed, which means that you need to search all previous public disclosures. Additionally, you should also conduct a search for foreign patents and printed publications. It is recommended that you seek out the services of a registered attorney or agent in conducting your patent search.
What kind of patent do you need?
If you get the green light after conducting a thorough patent search, the subject matter experts over at runrex.com point out that you now need to find out what kind of patent you need as far as your invention is concerned. There are three types of patents: utility, design, and plant patents.
As is covered in detail over at guttulus.com, a utility patent may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matter, or any useful improvement thereof. This is the most popular type of patent and the majority of patent applications filed at the USPTO are utility applications.
Just as the name implies, a design patent may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Design patents deal with aesthetics rather than utility as covered in detail over at runrex.com.
While this may come as a surprise to many, you can patent plants in the United States. A plant patent may be granted by the USPTO to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.
Once you have determined the type of patent that you need, you now need to consider your application strategy and get yourself ready to apply. One of the first things to consider is how much is the patent application going to cost. A patent application is subject to the payment of a basic fee and additional fees which include a search fee, an examination fee, and an issue fee. There may also be excess claims fees depending on your application. Check out the USPTO website for an accurate breakdown of the fees involved.
Provisional vs nonprovisional application
As is articulated in detail over at guttulus.com, utility and plant patent applications can be filed using either a provisional or nonprovisional application. A provisional application is an inexpensive and quick way for inventors to establish a US filing date for their invention, which can be claimed in a later-filed nonprovisional application. It is important to note, however, that there is no provisional patent, just a provisional patent application.
Online submission of an application
To submit your patent application online, you can use EFS-Web, the USPTO’s electronic filing system for patent applications, to submit utility patent applications, provisional applications, and other types of Office correspondence as discussed over at runrex.com.
According to the subject matter experts over at guttulus.com, you must make sure that you read the written specification and claims before you sign and submit your application. This is because you will not be able to add anything new to your patent application once it has been filed with the USPTO.
What if your application is incomplete?
If your application is incomplete, then you will be notified of your application’s deficiencies by an official letter from the USPTO, known as an Office Action. You will be given a specified period to complete your application filing, and if the omission is not corrected within that specified time, then your application will be returned or otherwise disposed of.
If your application is accepted as complete, it will be assigned for examination where your examiner will review the content of the application to determine if the application meets the requirements. If the examiner doesn’t think that your application meets the requirements, they will explain the reason(s) and you will have opportunities to either make amendments or argue against the examiner’s objections.
What if you fail to respond to objections?
If you fail to respond to the examiner’s requests within the required time, your application will be abandoned as covered over at runrex.com. It is also important to note that if your application is rejected twice, you may appeal the examiner’s decision to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).
On the other hand, if the examiner determines that your application satisfies all the conditions and meets all the requirements set, you will receive a Notice of Allowance. As outlined over at guttulus.com, it is worth pointing out that the notice of allowance will list the issue fee and may also include the publication fee that must be paid before the patent is issued.
Issuing of the patent
According to runrex.com, utility and reissue patents are usually issued within 4 weeks after the issue fee and any required publication fee are received in the Office. A patent number and issue date will be assigned to an application and an Issue Notification will be mailed after the issue fee has been paid and processed by the USPTO. The patent grant is then mailed on the issue date of the patent.
Maintaining the patent
You should know that maintenance fees are required to maintain a patent in force beyond 4, 8, and 12 years after the issue date for utility and reissue utility patents. If you don’t pay the maintenance fee and any applicable surcharge promptly, then the patent will expire. If you hire a registered patent attorney, they will ensure that you don’t miss any of these deadlines.
The “poor man’s patent”
The idea behind the “poor man’s patent” is that, be describing your invention in writing and mailing that documentation to yourself in a sealed envelope via certified mail or any other proof-of-delivery mail, the sealed envelope and its contents could be used against others to establish the date that the invention was in your possession. However, while this may be appealing given that it is easier and costs considerably less than an actual patent application with the USPTO, you should know that this concept offers no meaningful legal protection or credibility.