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U.S. Patent Patent Application
A patent application normally will include a specification containing a description of the invention, one or more claims defining the legal scope of your invention, and any necessary drawings. 

We work from information provided to prepare the patent application.  We have available a draftsman to prepare any needed formal drawings.   A draft is prepared and sent to the inventor(s) for additions or revisions, and a final version is finally prepared.  Once the draft patent application is ready, we will mail the application for final review and signature(s) of the inventor(s).  When we receive the signed application, it is filed with the U.S. Patent Office.

Patent Prosecution takes place after the application is filed.
Notice of Allowance
Maintenance Fees
Types of Patent Applications
Provisional patent application
Non-provisional (or Utility) patent application
Design patent application
Plant patent application
PCT application
Patent Prosecution takes place after the application is filed.
When a “regular” patent application (called a utility patent application, also called a non-provisional patent application) is filed, it is assigned to a Patent Examiner.  After the initial examination is made, an application may receive an initial office action. The Office Action raises objections to the specification, if any, or rejections of claims in the application.  Rejections are relatively common, because applicants are trying to maximize claims coverage, and the claims may therefore be sufficiently broad to read on prior art. 

A Response can be filed to any Office Action.  In the response, the specification or claims may be amended to overcome the objections or rejections of the Office Action. 

It is possible to conduct an Interview with the Patent Examiner.  This sometimes makes a difference, and we can therefore recommend it in appropriate cases.  We are close enough to the U.S. Patent Office to make such personal meetings possible and easy to do.   
Notice of Allowance
If and when the patent application is approved by the Patent Examiner, a Notice of Allowance and Issue Fee Due is sent, informing the Applicant that the application has been allowed.  A Response to the Notice of Allowance must include the Issue Fee Due, and must be filed within 3 months from the date of the Notice of Allowance.  After the issue fee is paid, the U.S. Patent Office will in due course issue a United States Patent which legally entitles the patent owner to control the use, manufacture and sale of the claimed invention for 20 years from the date the patent application was originally filed.
Maintenance Fees
Maintenance fees apply to issued patents, with the exception of plant patents and design patents. Maintenance fees on issued patents are due during the following periods:
(1) First payment - 3 years to 3 1/2 years after the date of issue.
(2) Second payment - 7 years to 7 1/2 years after the date of issue.
(3) Final payment - 11 years to 11 1/2 years after the date of issue.

Types of Patent Applications

Provisional patent application
A provisional patent application provides defensive protection, can gives a right to file a later utility patent application within one year.  It thereby also serves as a “place holder” to preserve patent rights, which otherwise could be lost due to the one year statutory bar (discussed elsewhere herein).  A provisional patent application gives the inventor a priority filing date with the Patent Office, as well as official and legal "patent pending" status.  A provisional patent application is less expensive to prepare and file, but to maintain patent protection beyond one year it must be converted to a non-provisional patent application within 1 year of the filing date of the provisional application.  One advantage of the provisional patent application is that it will not be examined by the Patent Office until it is converted to a non-provisional application, and therefore incurs no additional expenses.
Non-provisional (or Utility) patent application
A non-provisional patent application, generally known as a utility patent application, is a complete patent application that is examined by a Patent Examiner at the US Patent Office.  The standard applied to the invention described in the patent application it that it must be new, useful and non-obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the field of the invention.  A utility patent application includes a specification, any necessary drawings, and one or more claims which legally define the scope of the invention.  The claims are the most critical part of a patent application, and contain legal terms of art.  A utility patent application has a patent term of 20 years from the U.S. filing date.
Design patent application
A design patent application can be filed to protect the appearance, configuration, and ornamental qualities of an invention.  It does not protect the structure or function of an invention.  A design patent is examiner in the same way as a utility patent application.  If allowed, a design patent has a patent term of 14 years from the date the patent is issued.
Plant patent application
A plant application is filed to protect any distinct and new variety of plant that is asexually reproduced.
PCT application
A PCT application filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty enables an applicant to file one application (an international application) that is treated as a regular national filing in as many countries as the applicant designates.  However, the applicant must pay filing fees (and possibly other fees) for each designated country, and may need to provide a translation in the language of the designated country.  The applicant must then follow the national procedures for granting of patents in each of the designated countries.


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