The process is not extremely difficult but it needs some time to prepare so it is important to plan ahead and live yourself at least 7-8 weeks to complete the process. The main steps are:
Step 1 – Preparing your application
It all starts with a simple and easy to fill in questionnaire used to gather some general information about your invention. Next, you will discuss your application with a USPTO-registered patent professional by phone, and you will work with a professional illustrator in order to finalize the technical drawings you will need to support your patent application. This step can take up to 4 weeks. If you request an additional patent search and review to check for other invention that are similar to yours, it will add an extra week.
Step 2 – Filing your non-provisional application
Once you have all the information and documents prepared, you will be connected with a patent attorney or USPTO-registered patent agent who will help you in completing your application and filing it with the USPTO. This step also takes an average of 4 weeks. For special situations whichrequire expedite processing, law firms can offer a shorter deadline for an additional fee.
To help inventors in presenting their invention as clear and complete as possible the USPTO offers a series of guidelines on writing the patent application. According to these guidelines, the patent application needs to include:
Title of invention – no more than 500 characters long, describing the invention. It is recommended to avoid titles focused on marketing (trademarks, brands) and use instead descriptive titles.
Utility of the invention – including clear instructions on how to make the article/object/machine and how to use it.
Summary of the invention – what it is about (structure, components, functionality)
Drawings – (if the invention involves drawings) and explanations for any enclosed drawings
Claims about the patentability of the invention.
The basic rule in describing your invention is that it should be clear enough to allow any other person from the same field to make use of it with no other additional information. If the invention includes any rare or new material, a sample should be added to the application.
There is more than one difference between a provisional and a non-provisional application for patent. A provisional application is temporary, it protects the invention for only 12 months, it establishes a “date of invention” (or “priority filing date”) and it offers to any inventor a cheap, fast and easy way to protect its invention until he or she is sure the invention is worth investing for a full patent and has the funding to begin the process. A non-provisional utility patent is more complicated to obtain, it is more expensive, it takes longer and it protects the invention for 20 years.
The provisional application protects your invention for 12 months. The next step is to decide if you want to file for a full non-provisional patent and file before the 12 months expire. If you haven’t filed for your non-provisional application patent before the 12 months have passed, you lose your priority filling date.
If you decided not to file for a non-provisional application patent, all you have to do is let the 12 months pass without filing. If you wanted to file for a corresponding non-provisional application patent and you didn’t do it within 12 months from the provisional application, you can file again for a provisional application, but the initial filing date is lost.
Filing for the non-provisional utility patent application means that both the original provisional application and the non-provisional application will be reviewed by the USPTO.
When you file your nonprovisional utility patent application, both that and your original provisional application will be reviewed by the USPTO. An USPTO expert will determine whether the invention you described in the non-provisional utility patent application is similar enough to the one in the provisional application and your non-provisional application will be reviewed to determine if a patent can be granted.