Patent Process Timeline: How long does it take to patent an invention?

Patents are basically an agreement between an inventor and a government. If the inventor provides a new technology, product, plant, design, composition of matter or business method to the general public, then the government will allow that inventor to prevent others from making or selling the invention for a set period of time. A patent is actually not required to make a product, sell it, and make money. Although you do need to make sure you are not infringing someone else’s patent.

The best way to patent an invention changes depending upon the product, the inventor, the owner of the invention or assignee. What is the goal of the invention owner? Some want to sell, some want to manufacture themselves or license. Are there resources to file internationally?

  1. Get your invention on paper. Sketches, photos, description etc.
  2. File a provisional application, which serves as a placeholder application until a formal non-provisional application can be filed. Provisionals may be used when one needs to consult engineers or others when developing a product, further test a market or develop the product, even to secure a filing date while resources are prepared for the formal filing. This step may be skipped if there is no reason to file the provisional.
  3. Consider International filing of a non-provisional application in the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Once an International patent is filed, a preliminary search is done. The invention owner or applicant will have 30 months (usually) to enter any countries to go through examination and issue. Careful! you must file a PCT application within 12 months of the initial filing, provisional, US case, or invention filed in any other country.
  4. File a non-provisional patent application in the US, which can be done from the International filing or directly in the USPTO. Some applicant’s choose to file in the US concurrently with a PCT. When the US application is expedited (extra fee) we can determine patentability before we need to make decisions to invest in entering countries from a PCT.

After filing any application a waiting game ensues (1-2.5 years in US) to be examined by an examiner in the country or countries where you filed an application.  Once you accept allowability and pay fees, you will be issued a patent.

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