A patent gives the right to exclude the receipt of profits from your invention by third parties. The scope of this right is determined by the scope of the requirements indicated in the patent application: by demanding too little, you reduce the cost of your invention and allow potential violators to exploit it freely. On the other hand, by embracing too much, you invade what belongs to others, in which case your patent application will most likely be rejected. In order to avoid these costly mistakes, and before proceeding with the design of the application, the inventor must know the current level of technology (prior art).
Prior art includes a search by technology level, where existing patents and patent applications are checked, scientific and technical publications, lectures, documentation of various conferences, etc. This is done in order to identify the uniqueness of your invention.
Filing a Patent Application with USPTO (The United States Patent and Trademark Office)
Once you have a report on the current state of technology and you have decided on a patent, work begins on your application. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) distinguishes between the following types of patent documents offering various types of protection and safeguards for inventions:
Utility Patent – often referred to as a “patent for an invention”, is issued for the invention of a new and useful process, equipment, production or composition of a substance. This allows its owner to prohibit others from making it, using or selling a patented invention for up to twenty years from the date a patent application was filed.
Design Patent – issued on a new and original ornament on the subject of industrial production. This allows prohibiting others from making, using or selling a patented design for fourteen years from the date the patent was granted.
Plant Patent – issued on the invention of new species of plants bred selectively. Allows prohibiting others from making, using or selling a patented plant for up to twenty years from the date a patent application is filed.
There are several types of patent applications, but at this stage, we will talk about two: Provisional and Nonprovisional. The provisional application should be understood as nothing more than “fixing” the filing date, which is insufficient for obtaining a US patent since in the end, you will still need to submit a Nonprovisional application.
However, there are significant advantages in submitting Provisional applications:
- It does not have the most formal requirements, and therefore is cheaper;
- It is easier to prepare since the application contains a minimum of formal requirements;
- Submitting such an application gives you 12 months to improve your invention.
Once the Provisional application has been developed and filed with the USPTO, it is necessary to immediately begin preparing the Nonprovisional application. Remember that a Provisional application never creates a patent in the United States.
Drawing up a Nonprovisional application is a very important and difficult step in the patenting process. Everything that is described in the original Nonprovisional application as your invention, cannot be changed further. In addition, as we discussed earlier, prescribing greater patent rights than you have, you risk being refused.
As soon as work with the Nonprovisional application is completed, it is submitted to the USPTO, where, after a preliminary check, it will be sent to the patent examiner. During the review of your application, you must constantly contact the US Patent Office to clarify the details of your invention and the status of the application.
“After all the ‘torments’ when the patent has already been issued, and you are ready to start enjoying the fruits of your intellectual work, you can still find yourself in a situation where it is too early to relax. For example, you understand that the scope of a patent is unnecessarily narrow, as a result of which the scope of your invention is limited. If this did not happen as a result of bad intent and is not related to your actions in response to the requirements of the patent examiner, you can apply for a reissue” – says one of the best business accountants in NYC, Paul Miller and owner of a business accounting firm in New York.