Overview of the Prosecution Phase of Getting a Patent

The non-provisional patent application is examined by an examiner at the Patent Office approximately one year after filing and typically all of the claims are rejected by the examiner.  We then have a chance to respond to his/her rejections, a task which is billed by the hour and is  typically $800.00-1,800.00, depending on how complex the response is.  Sometimes, a rebuttal of the initial rejection results in obtaining allowed claims.  Once the claims are allowed, about another $1,000.00 is required for the issue fee.  This happens about two years after filing the utility patent application.   More than one round of rejection and rebuttal are possible.  The examination of the application depends on the examiner we get, and how close the prior art is to your device.

Patent Searching

A person can do their own patent searching, by accessing two databases which are available to the public.  One is the google patents database, and the other is the USPTO patent database.

Types of Patents and Patent Applications

Once the inventor has made a decision to proceed with filing a patent application for his/her invention, the type of application must be considered.

  • Provisional Patent Application: A provisional patent application is less formal application which allows a person to become patent pending quickly and with less expense. Though a provisional application establishes a filing date which may then be used in the filing of the more formal application one year later, it does not, alone, mature into a patent. This type of application is merely a placeholder that expires after one year.
  • Non-Provisional Application: A non-provisional application is a more formal application which can be filed after a provisional application or in place of one. If the non-provisional is filed within one year of a provisional application for the same invention, the non-provisional application may claim the date of the earlier filing. A non-provisional application is a formal document which requires drawings, full disclosure and description of the invention, claims, and other formalities. Unlike a provisional application which simply acts as a placeholder, a non-provisional patent application is reviewed by an examiner at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
  • Design Patent Application: A design patent application is a specific type of non-provisional application that is available for design innovations of an existing invention. A provisional application is not an option for design patent applications.