Simple Patent Application Timeline

timeline

Above is an example of a potential timeline for a patent application. It is important to note that the example represents a very simple course of patent examination concluding in the issuance of a patent and that the discussion below contains only a few highlights of the application process.

Hundreds of variations

It may be an understatement to say that there are hundreds of potential variations on the path of a patent examination.  The most significant delays in the patent examination process are unlikely to be impacted by your choice of an attorney, either in Louisiana or elsewhere.  For example, the amount of time spent waiting on the first Office Action is almost entirely dictated by the Patent Office’s classification of the invention.  The number of reasons the above timeline may not apply to an individual patent application are numerous.  Here are just a few:

  • The application process begins with a provisional patent application,
  • The Examiner believes that there is more than one invention claimed in the patent application,
  • The Examiner and applicant are unable to quickly agree on the significance of either the claims or prior art or
  • The Examiner is unconvinced that the application is entitled the patent protection.

Beginning the process/Patent searching and evaluation

If you are located in Baton Rouge or the greater Baton Rouge area you may find that using a Baton Rouge patent attorney is both cost effective and convenient.  Inventors often begin the process of seeking a patent application by either conducting some preliminary searching on their own or getting in touch with a local patent attorney.  This blog has some additional information on searching and I provide some preliminary information on starting the patent process by phone at no charge at my office number, (225) 302-8559.

Evaluations needed to make a decision regarding whether to pursue a patent application can be done with very little time at all or can take several months depending on the amount of research and evaluation that is conducted.

Patent application drafting

As indicated in the figure above, the various shades of blue indicate times in which the applicant is on the clock, i.e. not waiting on the Patent Office.  The application drafting time varies depending on the inventor’s ability to gather and present information relating to the invention quickly, the workload of the patent attorney and other factors.

Non-provisional patent application filing and Waiting for the first Office Action
After the filing of a non-provisional patent application there is typically a lengthy wait if no pre-examination issues are identified by the Patent Office. For many inventors, the time to begin commercialization efforts is after the non-provisional patent application filing.

The First Office Action from the USPTO

Typically the first Office Action from the Patent Office includes a rejection of all claims. Such a rejection may be viewed as serving the purpose of forcing the applicant to go on record arguing on behalf of patentability. Although a rejection may be disheartening, typically the matter of greatest importance is the similarity of the cited art to the invention as it is claimed.

Applicant’s Response

Because the patentability of an invention relies on the invention being different than the things that came before it, the response generally focuses on differentiating the claims from the prior art and explaining those differences. The cycle of Office Actions and applicant responses can extend well beyond what is shown in the figure above.  Inventors should bear in mind that seeking very broad patent protection can lead to more cycles of Office Actions and applicant responses leading directly to higher expenses in the pursuit of patent protection.

Notice of Allowance/Patent Issues

If the Applicant successfully convinces the Examiner that all conditions for patentability have been satisfied a Notice of Allowance would issue.  Then after some activities on behalf of the Applicant and the Patent Office the patent would ultimately issue.

The timeline presented above represents a simple course of examination of a patent application. Because the application process can be significantly more complicated it may be a good idea to seek advice from a patent attorney in Baton Rouge or in a city near you.