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The Patent Process

How do I get a patent?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) awards patents to inventors through a rigorous and intense application process.  Most filers work with a registered patent attorney or patent agent. We have outlined the big steps below to help prepare you for the patent journey.

Step 1

Invent!

Start with what inventors do best. The USPTO stresses novelty, so if you think of something no one else has, document your thoughts somewhere safe and contact a patent attorney before you tell anyone else. Sometimes patents cannot be issued if the invention has been publicly disclosed.

Step 2

Patent Search

A patent search is an in-depth review of related material to look for a previous public disclosure of the same invention. Prior art can be anything available to the public, including patent applications, trade show presentations, and industry publications.

Step 3

Choose a Patent Type

Inventors can file for a utility, design, or plant patent. Utility patents cover the structure and function of an invention while design patents cover a novel look and feel. Plant patents are for a new plant that reproduces on its own. Some inventions are awarded both utility and design patents.

Step 4

Provisional Patent Application

A provisional patent application grants an earlier effective filing date and lets applicants share their invention with the public under the term "Patent Pending." Provisional applications expire one year after the filing date. Not every inventor chooses to file a provisional application.

Step 5

Non-Provisional Patent Application

Non-provisional patent applications are scrutinized by patent examiners and must contain as much detail about the invention as possible. This is where you finally tell the world what makes your invention unique through a detailed description, illustrations, and claims.

Step 6

Pass Examination

The USPTO will assign a patent examiner to your application. Examiners make sure all patent applications have distinct enough claims before issuing a patent. Office actions are requests for applicants to respond to rejections or objections made by an examiner.

Step 7

Celebrate!

If an applicant sufficiently responds to each of the examiner's rejections, they are awarded a Notice of Allowance and granted a patent!

Source: The United States Patent and Trademark Office

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