Steps in the Patent Process

Filing a patent application is a complex procedure and your rights as an inventor may be lost if the patent application and prosecution are not handled by an experienced patent attorney.  As a patent attorney, I understand the importance of following each step in the patent process no matter how insignificant or tedious it may seem to the average layperson.  Some companies that offer to patent inventions skip important details to save money and time.  It is by following each step to the letter that I, as your patent attorney, protect your legal rights.

During the initial consultation, you explain your invention in detail so that I have a better understanding of the invention and know what I must do to help you protect it.  We then begin the patent process.

Patent Searches

 Patent searches are a very important step in the patent process because they tell us the patentability of your invention.  A patent search tells us if there are existing published applications or patents that are similar to or identical to your invention.  Some inventors may believe that patent searches are a waste of time and money; however, you may be wasting years and far more money if you try to patent a product that either has already been patented or is in the process of being patented.

 Drafting Claims

 Drafting a claim is the next step in the patent process.  We must adequately describe your invention in order to provide the scope of the protection we are seeking.  In other words, we need to inform the patent office how broad or how narrow the patent needs to be in order to protect the patent.

 Writing the Specification

 The specification is the story of your invention.  It includes a summary of your invention as well as the background of the invention.  We demonstrate through this information what your invention will do to solve a problem that has previously not had a solution or the products currently available do not adequately resolve the problem.

 Drawings and Illustrations

 You must have adequate drawings and illustrations to accompany your patent application.  As part of your drawings and illustrations, you should clearly demonstrate all of the points made in your claims such as showing how your invention solves the problem you addressed in the claim.

 Patent Prosecution

 After your patent application is filed, the U. S. Patent Office will perform its own patent search and may reject your patent based on information in their report.  If so, we must file the appropriate responses and objections to set forth why we believe you have a patentable invention.  This process could take several years and only an experienced patent attorney is equipped with the knowledge and expertise to ensure all deadlines are met and all documents are prepared and filed.

 Issuance of a Patent

 At the end of the process, we hope to receive notice that your patent application has been approved.  If so, you must pay an issue fee to the USPTO.  It could take six months before the patent office officially issues the patent after you pay the fee.  The patent will expire 20 years from the earliest priority date of the patent application, not the date the patent was granted.

 Maintenance Fees

 Once the patent has been granted, you will be required to pay maintenance fees at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years in order to retain the patent.

Obtaining your patent is my ultimate goal and ensuring that your rights are protected throughout the process is equally as important.  You should not trust something as important as protecting your invention to someone with less experience or knowledge of the patent process.

Kelly G. Swartz is a patent attorney licensed to practice in front of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and in the state of Florida.  She limits her practice to intellectual property law including patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets.