The Provisional Patent Process
If you need to safeguard your invention prior to applying for a standard patent, consider filing for a provisional patent. This process was established in 1995 and allows you to acquire patent protection for one year while preparing your standard application.
This process also offers you the benefit of obtaining a priority date to establish your ownership of the invention. However, it should be noted that this priority date only applies to when you filed the application and does not guarantee that you will receive a patent.
Obtaining a Priority Date
When it comes to patents, priority date is essential. This determines who gets to file the initial application for an invention and allows someone to get a head start on other inventors by filing for their patent before anyone else does.
Priority dates can be obtained by filing either a provisional patent application, or filing a non-provisional patent within one year after filing the provisional. It’s possible to gain priority by filing either type of application; however, it’s more common for applicants to submit a provisional patent before filing for non-provisional protection.
To receive a priority date for an invention, the provisional application must provide sufficient detail so that someone skilled in the relevant art could practice it. This requires including an extensive description of the invention with drawings and specifications, as well as whether or not it is new.
The provisional patent application should include detailed disclosures of the invention’s scope and be supported by documents that demonstrate it. These could include manuscripts, computer code (preferably with comments), laboratory notebooks, emails, invention disclosure forms and other documents that further describe the invention.
It is essential to provide proof that an invention has been publicly disclosed. This can be accomplished through creating a product prototype, giving public presentations, or conducting research and development.
Finally, it is essential to provide documentation backing the invention’s application in technology. This could include photographs of the invention, a list of customers who use it, and copies of any commercially available products similar to it.
Once an invention has been publicly disclosed, WVU may choose to file a U.S. Utility patent application that enters the National Phase. Alternatively, it could opt for filing an international patent application which begins the International Phase and is published by WIPO around eighteen months after priority date.
Filing a Non-Provisional Patent Application
A non-provisional patent application is the formal document that initiates patent protection for an inventor’s invention. It includes a description of the invention and claims that define its boundaries. If all requirements are fulfilled, then the USPTO will examine the application and grant a patent.
A provisional application is an efficient way to establish a priority date for your invention before filing a full-blown non-provisional patent application. It also gives you an estimate of the costs involved with patenting, giving you time to consider if it’s worth proceeding with it or not.
Filing a non-provisional patent application is more expensive than filing for provisional protection, but it offers several advantages. Most notably, it accelerates your invention’s time on the clock for patent protection by one year and gives you insight into what it takes to successfully patent an invention.
Additionally, filing a non-provisional application gives you the potential to claim priority for any subsequent provisional applications filed within one year from your non-provisional application; however, this is not guaranteed to work in all circumstances.
If you’re not sure whether to file a provisional or non-provisional application, consult an experienced patent attorney. They can help determine which path is best suited for your invention and make the process less stressful.
Another advantage of a non-provisional patent application over a provisional patent application is the flexibility to add new subject matter as needed. This can be advantageous if you plan to make significant improvements to your invention at a later date; with non-provisional patenting, these changes can be done at no extra charge.
For instance, if you’re prepping for a product launch and wish to make changes to your invention, filing a non-provisional application with updated specifications and drawings gives the opportunity to incorporate those modifications into the patent. Doing this increases the likelihood of receiving a utility patent that grants protection to the right to manufacture, use, and sell the invention.
Filing a Utility Patent Application
Utility patents are the most common type of patent and safeguard inventions with a useful, non-obvious design. This could include any process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter or other useful object.
When applying for a utility patent, it is essential that your application contains all of the relevant details so others can clearly see your invention and how it functions. If you lack time or funds to draft an extensive patent application, considering filing a provisional patent application instead may be worth considering.
Filing a provisional patent application will grant you an exclusive priority date that will prevent other parties from exploiting your invention for one year. However, this priority date cannot be converted to an actual granted patent.
Once you have obtained a priority date, the process to acquire a utility patent can begin. The steps involved in this procedure vary depending on your invention; however, it’s likely that you need to hire an experienced patent attorney for assistance throughout every step.
The initial step to obtaining a patent is filing a utility patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This application should include claims that accurately describe your invention, and once these claims are accepted you will be awarded with an American patent that lasts 20 years from filing date.
As part of the patent application process, you will collaborate with a patent examiner to determine whether your invention is patentable and meets all other necessary criteria for patentability. They will review your application and claims, and if they believe it is not patentable, will give you an opportunity to respond.
Once the examiner provides their comments on your application, you have the opportunity to revise it accordingly. However, be aware that this can take several years so it’s essential that you have a complete understanding of both your invention and how it will be utilized moving forward.
Once a utility patent is issued, it is important to make periodic payments in order to maintain its validity. This can take as little as 3.5 years from filing your original patent but could extend up to 20 years from that time.
Filing a Design Patent Application
If you have a design for an article embodied by an item or device and would like to protect its exterior visual appearance, filing for a design patent application might be worth considering. This type of application is more cost-effective than filing for a utility patent and allows you to protect both aesthetic features of an article as well as functional ones.
When preparing and filing a design patent application, it is essential to adhere to the rules established by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. If you are uncertain of what requirements exist, consulting with a patent attorney or agent is recommended.
Before submitting the application, ensure all information is accurate and comprehensive. This includes drawings, specifications, as well as any other documents necessary for submission.
Once you have all of your files and documents together, it is time to file them with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). You have two options: upload them electronically using EFS-Web or print them out and send them via postal mail.
When filing a design patent application, it is essential to create the drawings with great care and accuracy. Every line and surface shading should be deliberate; furthermore, only depict portions of the environment related to the claimed design; any extraneous lines or elements should be eliminated or shown as broken lines (known as “phantom lines”) before filing for protection.
In your design patent application, it’s recommended that you include at least one photograph. This can help explain the claimed design details and serve as a foundation for later non-provisional and continuation applications.
It is highly recommended to submit a timely reply to any Office action you receive, such as requests for reconsideration and further examination of your application. A timely reply can be an essential factor in securing the maximum patent protection for your invention.
A professional draftsperson can assist you with creating your design patent drawings and other necessary preparations for your application. They are knowledgeable on how best to represent your design within the application, ensuring it satisfies all USPTO requirements.