The US patent process explained
Filing a patent application in the US is a lot easier than you think. Although it may seem like a complicated process, it is actually quite simple as long as you follow these 3 basic steps.
Step 1 – Prepare your patent application. Start with your patent drawings
Next, write the text that describes your drawings. Your text and drawings together tell the story of your invention, so be sure to include all of the important details about your idea.
Include details about how your idea is different from what was done before. Your idea? and your patent ? will be judged on whether it is truly different and inventive from what has been before.
Step 2 - File your patent application. Here you have to make a few choices. The first choice is whether to file a provisional application or a regular patent application.
A provisional application won’t be examined but will give you a date ‘ a foot in the door to protect your idea. You then have one year to file a regular patent application and complete the process.
Quick tip – a provisional patent application can only be filed in the US.
A regular patent application will be examined by the US Patent and Trademark Office and can lead to getting a patent.
Optionally you can perform a patent search to see if you are first. This is particularly important for a regular patent application as it will be examined.
Try Google Patent Search first to see what’s out there.
This leads you to your second choice. A regular patent application can be filed in any country of interest, so you need to pick the best country for your patent application.
The broadest software patents are in the US, so if you have a software idea, the US is best.
Step 3 – Now you wait, because your patent application needs to be examined. The examiner at the US Patent and Trademark Office (in the US; similar government patent offices exist in each country) checks your patent application and compares it to the patent standards. The examiner asks:
Is your idea new and truly inventive?
Does your idea fit into a patentable category?
And last ” but not least ” is your patent application written correctly? Were the drawings and text done correctly?
Quick tip – Even a small error can disqualify you from receiving a patent.
How long will it take? In the US, at least 2-3 years for the process. However, during that time, your idea is patent pending ? which can be valuable in itself (just ask Snapchat).
Wondering if your idea is patentable? Have a question about this article? We can answer all of your questions — just hit "contact us" down below!