Utility Patent Application Process to Issuance or Final Rejection
A patent allows the inventor to protect his or her idea for a period of 20 years from the date of filing, in exchange for making that idea available to the public. Obtaining a utility patent begins with an idea, be that idea a new invention, an improvement of an invention, or a process for the making of an invention. The inventor must then develop the idea to such an extent that someone familiar with the area of expertise in which the patent was developed would be able to take the information available and reproduce the idea. This does not mean a prototype needs to be developed prior to filing, just that the idea is developed to such an extent that a working prototype could be produced.
If the idea has been developed but research, testing and further development may be required, the inventor may consider filing a provisional application to protect the idea for 1 year while these additional steps are taken. If the idea has been developed to such an extent that it is ready for production, a nonprovisional patent application should be filed. The following steps describe the process followed for the filing of a nonprovisional utility patent application.
If a notice of allowance is issued, the applicant must pay the issue fee and the publication fee.
Once a patent application is issued, maintenance fees are due 3½, 7½ and 11½ years after the patent is granted.
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