Getting Your Patent Rights: The Timeline and Cost
Patent rights are designed to protect your intellectual property, giving you complete ownership and control over your invention or design. A patent is important because it prevents others from making, using, selling, or importing your inventions for a specific period of time. Once the application gets approved, you get the legal rights to the patent for up to 20 years. Holding a patent also provides legal support against infringers.
But is your invention patentable? Knowing this is important before you apply for a patent in the U.S.
Determine If Your Invention is Patentable
To know if your invention is patentable, you need to understand what can be patented and what cannot.
What can be patented?
This includes new, useful, and non-obvious utility inventions such as:
- Composition of matter
- Articles of manufacture
- Product or design improvement of any of the above
Additionally, patent rights are also available for (i) asexually reproduced plant varieties or (ii) ornamental design of a manufacturing article.
At the same time, inventions must be novel, adequately enabled or described, and claimed by the inventor in definite and clear terms.
What cannot be patented?
- Inventions which are not useful or offensive to the public at large
- Dramatic, musical, artistic, or literary works
- Physical phenomena
- Laws of nature
- Abstract ideas
However, merely knowing what can be patented and what cannot be is not enough. Before you file a patent application, it is important to see if your invention has already been disclosed publicly. This requires a comprehensive patent search. If you do not have knowledge in patent searches, it is recommended to seek assistance from a registered attorney.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Patent?
After you have successfully completed all the steps to get patent rights for your invention, you’d wondering how long it takes to get patent approval.
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the average timeline to process your patent rights applications is 24.6 months. The applications are numbered in a sequential order. The applicant will be notified about the application number and official filing date timeline within 8 weeks when you file the application in paper. If you file electronically, the application number will be available within minutes.
If the USPTO examiner determines that the application meets all requirements and is in satisfactory condition, you will get the Notice of Allowance. It will include the issue fee, or the publication fee, which must be paid before the patent can be issued.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Patent?
The fees will vary based on the type of patent application you submit. It may also vary depending on the way you “claim” the invention. Typically, there are three basic fees that you are required to pay to get utility patent rights.
- The filing fee – This is a non-refundable amount whether the patent gets granted or not. The filing fee is paid towards the cost to have the invention “examined” by the USPTO.
- The issue fee – This amount is payable only if your patent application is allowed. This will be mentioned in the Notice of Allowance if the application is allowed.
- The maintenance fees – The regular maintenance fee is payable at an interval of 3 ½, 7 ½, and 11 ½ years after the patent is granted. The fee goes towards maintaining your legal protection during the patent period.
Additional fees may also be applicable in certain cases. It is advised to check the latest USPTO patent fee schedule before you submit the application.
Why Does a Patent Take So Long to Get Granted and Cost So Much?
The average of 24.6 months to get your patent rights approved is often considered significantly longer to get an invention patented. Hence, the cost is also hefty.
However, USPTO receives thousands of patent applications every month, while the number of examiners is limited. This results in longer waiting times. High-demand domains like computer software experience ever longer waiting times. Additionally, when an applicant disputes the USPTO’s decision, it may further slow down the process. Patents are substantially expensive too. Depending on the type of business or invention you have, they can be a worthwhile investment or a waste of money & time.
Seek consultation from an expert patent attorney that can help expedite the process of getting patent rights.
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