The patent process


The United States Constitution allows provides for the registration of new processes, plants, and designs, giving inventors the exclusive right to make, use, and sell their products. Any new, useful, and non-obvious invention may be patented. U.S. patents last up to twenty years, and generally cost a minimum of $4000 (US) over the lifetime of the patent, including maintenance fees.

The patent application process can be extremely complex. Inventors must submit documentation of the invention's specifications, including a description and legal claims, as well as a declaration of the inventor's identity. Each component must adhere to specific government standards. Successful patent applications are well-researched, and include references to previously published material and previously patented products to prove the invention's innovation and usefulness.

When a patent application is submitted to the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office, it is reviewed by an expert examiner.  This review confirms that invention meets the criteria of being innovative, useful, and unobvious.  Extensive research is conducted to discover any patents that have a prior claim on the invention.  The examiner also ensures that the invention and application meet legal requirements.  If all is in order, a patent is granted.

It is rare for a patent application to be successful the first time it is filed.  More often, the patent examiner objects to one or more elements of the application.  These objections, along with supporting documentation, are returned to the applicant.  If the applicant chooses to continue to pursue the patent, he or she may reply to the examiner's concerns or amend the original application.  The application is them reexamined.  This cycle continues until a final judgment is made by the Patent and Trademark Office. Adverse decisions may be appealed according to U.S. law, first within the Patent and Trademark Office, and then in federal court.  Fees are assessed by the government at every stage in the patent process.

Since acquiring a patent can be a convoluted process and requires familiarity with both patent law and patent research, it is advisable to retain expert legal counsel to handle the drafting and legal progression of the application, including any necessary responses or appeals.  If you are considering filing for a patent, contact Overhauser Law Offices to schedule a consultation.  Our lawyers will consider your invention in light of current patent law, and advise you of the best course of action.

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