Quick Patent Filing Procedures Guide

USA Trademark & Patent Office Building Filing a patent is a complicated, but necessary procedure to protect your invention. To qualify for a patent, your idea must be a new, non-obvious, and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter, or an improvement on any of the above. Before you can even being the patent process, you or your attorney must check to be sure that no one has patented or published anything similar to your product. You are required to do a patent search in the United States and all foreign countries. Therefore, you cannot patent an item that you saw in another country.

Obtaining a utility patent will protect the actual function and structure of your product. It will not cover anything related to the look, feel, or design of your product. Because a patent plays such an important role in protecting your product, the process for filing and obtaining a utility patent is a very complex one.

When filing for a patent, you must provide the U.S. Patent Office with the invention specifications and drawings. You are required to pay an application fee in addition to completing the utility patent transmittal form, fee form, and data sheet. Many people choose to hire a patent attorney to assist them through the process.

One of the best resources for filing a patent is the U.S. Patent Office’s website, http://www.uspto.gov. Below are the steps required for filing a patent.

First, you are required to provide the Patent Office with a detailed claim. This claim will describe your invention and must include detailed drawings of your invention. If your invention is a complex one, there could be multiple claims in your application. This is to ensure that all of the unique qualities of your product of covered.

The US Patent Office has many stringent guidelines for applications that they require you to follow. These include using only black ink and cover the type, color, condition, and size of the paper you use.

Next, you must include a utility patent application transmittal form. This form provides a way for you to list all of the documents you are including in your filing package.

After completing all of the above paperwork, you must sign an oath swearing that you are the original inventor of the product or process. This is a legal requirement for obtaining a patent. You must sign your oath in front of a notary. An un-notarized oath is not valid.

Your next step will be to submit an application data sheet with your filing. You are required to provide all biographical data as specified by the US Patent Office.

United States Patent Cover from a real patent ...
Image via Wikipedia

After completing all of the above paperwork and sending your application in along with the required filing fee, you now must play a waiting game. The US Patent Office can take up to 14 months to respond to your application.

This is why it is a good idea to do a thorough patent search before filing your application. The US Patent Office will also do a complete search before they approve your patent. Therefore, the more thorough your search before filing, the easier it will be for your patent to be approved.

There are attorneys who specialize in patent law. These attorneys have the knowledge and the resources to properly fill out your paperwork and that a thorough patent search is carried out prior to filing your paperwork. If you decide to hire an attorney to assist you with the patent process, be sure to obtain a written estimate for his or her services. Doing so will help you to avoid any nasty surprises when the bill arrives.

Your attorney can help you to determine if you qualify as a small entity or not according to the US Patent Office. Making the correct determination can save you money.

The US Patent Office prefers having the information submitted on a disc if the utility patent description exceeds 300 pages. You will need to use standard file formats.

All of your paperwork submitted to the US Patent Office must be the originals. Keep the photocopies for your own records.

The US Patent Office will not accept applications in foreign languages. English is the only language accepted by them. Failure to submit in English means an automatic rejection.

About the Author

Cory Howell is a small business owner who regularly uses attorney drafted IT contracts to protect his business and his assets. He understands the important role that contracts play in protecting software developers, IT businesses, and independent contractors.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia user Coolcaesar [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

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