how to get a patent on your idea or invention

How to Get a Patent?

If you have an invention or idea you're probably wondering "How do I get a patent?" You've come to the right place, we will explain the different types of patent available to you, as well as how much they cost, how you can get one, and the stops on how to file a patent application with the USPTO. This article will also cover how to get a utility patent, design patent, and provisional patent.

If you have a great idea that you believe may be commercially successful once it's produced, you mat be asking yourself how you can protect that idea or invention from those who may steal your idea and copy it?

The short answer is that you can protect yourself by patenting your invention. Patent protection allows you to restrict others from using, making, or selling your invention or product.

How Do I Get a Patent?

To get a patent you need to satisfy the requirements set forth by the USPTO. This means that your invention has to (1) have patentable subject matter, (2) your invention must be useful or serve some purpose, (3) it has to be novel (new), and (4) it must not be obvious.

Once you know that your invention or idea meets the requirements mentioned above, you can get a patent by filing an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Filing an application is a complex process that typically requires the help of a trained professional. That said, it's not unheard of to find someone who has successfully patented their invention on their own.

Different Types of Patents that you Can Get

Patents are a form of intellectual property rights granted to inventors to give them a monopoly over their invention for a limited period of time, usually up to 20 years for utility patents. Patents give patent owners the right to restrict others from using, making, or selling their invention without their permission.

You can get five types of patents from the USPTO:

  • Utility Patents. These are the most common type of patent applied for at the USPTO, making up more than 90% of patent application. Utility patents protect the functional aspect of an invention.
  • Design Patents. Design patents protect the aesthetic or ornamental appearance of a functional item. You can use design patents to protect things like the look of beverage bottles and jewelry.
  • Provisional Patents. If you don't have the money or are not ready to file a regular patent application, you can file a provisional patent application to secure an early filing date. Once you round up some investors or complete work on your invention, you can file your non-provisional (regular) patent application.
  • Software Patents. If you're looking to protect your software, you will need to apply for a utility patent to protect the functional aspects of your new software.
  • Plant Patents. These patents protect new species of asexually reproduced plants, such as flower or vegetables.

Why Should you Get a Patent?

You should get a patent for a number of reasons. If you want to profit from your patent you will need to protect your invention. Patents will give you the ability to prohibit others from making, selling, or importing your invention to the United States.

Patents also give you priority over people who seek to patent an invention that's the same or similar to yours. When you're the only person or business selling your invention, you might be able to corner the market and make tremendous amount of profits. Without patent protection, your competitors might replicate your product and compete with you. If you've patented your invention and someone else copies it, you can sue them for patent infringement and prohibit them from selling or making your invention.

Another reason you should get a patent is that you can market yourself or your business as an innovator that has developed inventions worthy of a patent from the USPTO. Having a patent can attract investors to invest in you or your company in exchange for the right to use a particular patent or set of patents.

Why Should you Not Get a Patent?

Although the benefits of getting a patent outweigh the negatives, we are going to share with you a couple of disadvantages of getting a patent.

If you get a patent, you will have to disclose specific, technical information about your patent to the public. This is a problem in circumstances where you want to keep some details about your invention secret.

Also, getting a patent is quite costly whether or not you succeed in getting your patent. The average cost to have an attorney file a patent application is around $7,500 for a simple invention. The price only goes up the more complex your invention.

Once you've filed for and been granted a patent, you can just sit back and expect the USPTO to enforce your patent. You will have to proactively look for and go after those who infringe upon your patent. To do so you'll likely need the assistance of a patent attorney and if you've ever dealt with one, you know how expensive they can be.

How to Protect Your Invention Before you Get a Patent?

You can protect your invention before you get a patent by keeping your invention a secret. For example, if you're working on your invention and you need the assistance of a third part, you can ask them to sign a confidentiality agreement. That said, confidentiality agreements aren't foolproof but they will reduce the possibility of your invention being stolen.

If someone breaks the confidentiality agreement by either stealing your idea or disclosing it to someone else, you will be able to take legal action against them. An attorney can draft a simple confidentiality agreement that will hopefully protect your invention.

What to do Before you Apply to Get a Patent?

Getting a patent can be costly and time consuming, so before you apply to get a patent, you might want to do some research to see if someone else has already patented your idea or invention.

Do the following before you begin the process to get a patent:

  • Begin by searching the USPTO patent database or any other patent search tools. We personally like Google Patents, the database is easy to use and most importantly it's free. Also, you might want to search the database for applied for patents to make sure that there is no one in the process of patenting an invention that's similar to yours.
  • Search Scientific Publications relevant to the field of your invention. You may also want to conduct an international patent search. After finishing your research you should know more about your patent, as well as similar patents that are out there.
  • If you find that conducting a patent search is overwhelming, you can always hire a patent attorney that can help you with your patent search.
  • While you're conducting your research, make note of inventions that are similar to yours, write down any differences between the two inventions. If you find that an invention is really similar to yours, it's a good idea to write down a detailed explanation how your invention is different or how it improves upon existing inventions.

Are you Ready to Get a Patent?

To get a patent, you have to have something that's more than just an idea. While you don't need a fully-functional prototype to patent your invention, you need to be able to provide the USPTO with a detailed description of how your invention works.

When filling out your patent application, you will need to provide enough details about your invention so that someone with average skills in the field of your invention would be able to understand and produce your invention.

If you've been tirelessly working on your invention, but you haven't perfected it yet, you can file a provisional patent application with the USPTO. The provisional patent application will allow you to secure an early filing date and will give you the ability to label your invention as "patent pending."

Patent pending status will place your competitor's on notice that you're actively seeking to protect your invention. Also, if you're looking for investors, patent pending status will show them that you have invented something that's worth patenting.

That said, provisional patent applications only last for 12 months from the date you file it. To get a patent, you'll need to file your non-provisional patent application within that 12 month period. If you fail to file a non-provisional patent application, the USPTO will consider your application as abandoned, and you will not be able to use patent pending on your product or invention.

While the provisional patent application does not require as much detail as a regular patent application, to get a provisional patent you will need to provide a description of your invention. Again, we have to remind you that provisional application only last for 12 months, they cannot be extended, so make sure you wrap up work on your invention within that time and that you file a non-provisional patent application to get your patent.

Can you Get a Patent Without an Attorney?

We personally know several inventors who have successfully navigated the U.S patent system to get their inventions patented. The good news for someone who wants to get a patent on their own is that the USPTO is required to help individual inventors who want to get a patent without an attorney's help.

Like we said previously, to get a patent you must make sure that your invention qualifies for a patent. Once you've done, you should file out your patent application and file it with the USPTO. Patenting an invention is not extremely hard, but it is somewhat complicated, you have to follow the rules very carefully.

If you do not follow the rules carefully, the USPTO may reject your patent application for seemingly minor mistakes. While there are some people who will tell you that you cannot get a patent without the help of attorney, they are mistaken, it just a skill that you need to develop.

That said, hiring an attorney can save you a lot of the heartache involved with filing your patent. Attorneys already know how to do the required research to get you the best possible patent protection.

Steps to Get a Patent

1) Describe Your Invention

The first hurdle you need to pass when seeking a patent is describing your invention. The USPTO does not allow people to patent only ideas. You need to explain how your invention works. You should explain what makes your invention new and how it's useful (i.e., what purpose does it serve or what problem does it address).

Once you have described your inventions, think about ways you can improve your invention. The more you know about your invention, the more you can protect. Also, think about the applications for your invention. Answering these questions will help you search for similar inventions and will allow you to protect the full scope of your invention.

2) Consider Whether your Invention will be Commercially Successful

Before submitting a patent application to get a patent, do some market research to see if anyone is interested in your invention. If you find someone who is interested in your invention and there's a market for it, it would make sense to invest your time and money in applying for a patent.

3) Choose the Appropriate Type of Protection

If for whatever reason you're not quite ready to file a full patent application, you can start off by filing a provisional patent application. Provisional patents give you a year to perfect your invention. Maybe there's something that's not working 100% the way you want, you can file a provisional application and once you've perfected your invention, you can file a regular (nonprovisional) utility patent application.

When looking at options to protect your invention, you may also want to protect the distinctive aesthetic features of your invention. You can do so by filing a separate design patent application with the USPTO.

As a reminder, utility patents protect the functional aspects (how your invention works) while design patents protect the unique look of your invention. Seeking both is a smart idea and will add value to your invention.

4) Fill Out & Submit Your Patent Application

This is the most important part of the process. The USPTO has a lot of rules that must be followed when filling out your patent application. Provisional applications are less complicated to fill out because they act as placeholders for the regular patent application. If you need help drafting your patent application, you can always seek the help of a patent attorney, but they don't come cheap. For a simple invention, expect to spend around $4,000 on an attorney who will draft and file your patent application. The $4,000 does not include filing fees. Filing fees will cost you another $75just to file your application.

5) Track the Status of Your Application

The USPTO currently has a backlog of patent applications, so don't expect to hear back from them for over a year. You should check the status of your application once or so a month to make sure that they don't need anything from you. Also, once a patent examiner is assigned to your application, they might approve it or reject it. If they reject your application, you will usually have an opportunity to file a response arguing against their reason for rejection.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Patent?

If you are a small inventor who wants to patent his new invention, here are is an example of the costs you may encounter to get a patent with the help of an attorney:

  • Patent Search by an attorney: $2,000
  • Filling out and preparing a provisional patent application: $2,500
  • Filing the patent application with the USPTO: $140
  • Non-provisional patent application after a provisional patent application: $10,000
  • Filing Fee for the non-provisional patent application: $150
  • Illustrations for non-provisional patent application: $500
  • Total Cost: $15,290

As you can tell, a significant portion of the cost to get a patent is the lawyer fees. If you want to go the do-it-yourself route, you could save a lot of money. Just remember that applying for a patent requires attention to detail, if you fit that description, you may be able to get a patent on your own.

How do you Get a Patent

We hope that this article helped answer some of the question that you have about how to get a patent, as well as how much it costs to get a patent. We listed the steps that you need to take to get your invention patented, as well as why you should patent your invention. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section below.


How much does patenting your invention cost?

How Much Does a Patent Cost?

If you've invented something new you're probably wondering how much does it costs to patent it? If that's you, you've come to the right spot because we will be discussing the costs associated with patenting your idea or invention. The cost of your patent will depend on the size of your business, as well as the complexity of your invention. We will give you a rough estimate as to how much patenting your invention will cost.

If you're seeking to apply for a patent for your invention your idea, you need to consider the cost associated with applying for a patent, as well as the fees associated with revising your patent application, prosecuting it, issuance costs, and the maintenance costs associated with keeping your patent alive.

How Much does it Cost to Get a Patent?

The cost of patenting your invention varies greatly depending on the complexity of your invention. Patents can cost anywhere from $1000 to $10,000+ depending on the type of patent and the complexity of your invention. If you're someone who wants to fill out the patent application and do it yourself, expect to spend around $1,000 just on filing fees alone. If you want the assistance of an attorney, expect to spend between $5,000 to $10,000+ on attorney's fees for filing your patent application.

Here is a list of the filing fees you should expect to pay for your utility, design, or plant patent:


USPTO Patent Application Fees 2019

Type of CostMicro Entity FeeSmall Entity FeeRegular Fee
Utility Patent Filing Fee
$75
$150
$300
Design Patent Filing Fee
$50
$100
$200
Plant Patent Filing Fee
$50
$100
$200
Provisional Application Filing Fee
$70
$140
$280
Utility Patent Search Fee
$165
$330
$660
Utility Patent Examination Fees
$190
$380
$760
Utility Patent Issue Fee
$250
$500
$1,000
Design Patent Issue Fee
$175
$350
$700
Plant Patent Issue Fee
$200
$400
$800

Now that we have covered the USPTO filing fees, you should know that you will have lawyer fees if you choose to have an attorney file your patent application, as well as drawing fees that you'll have to pay.

Here are some examples of how much it will cost to have an attorney file your non-provisional (regular) patent application:


Patent Application Attorney Fees

Type of Patent
Cost
Suitable For
Utility Patent
$5,000 to $15,000
Protection of a tangible product or thing
Design Patent
$2,500 to $3,500
Protection of the aesthetics or appearance of a functional item
Provisional Patent
$1,500 to $3,000
Gives you patent pending status while you develop your invention ot prepare a nonprovisional patent application
Plant Patent
$4,500 to $8,000
Protection for new types of asexually reproduced plants
Software Patent
$15,000+
Protection for new software

Please note that the fees you pay for your patent application may vary greatly depending on the complexity of your invention and your geographic location. Use these figures as a rough guide.

Patent Application Cost

Applying for a patent and prosecuting can be a costly process. The filing fees associated with a patent are a small part of the total cost to receive a patent. The table above gives you a good idea of how much you'll need to spending on filing fees.

Most of the patents that are filed with the USPTO are utility patents. Most of the cost associated with applying for a utility patent is the cost of paying an attorney to prepare the patent application.

Simple inventions usually cost a few thousand dollars while more complex inventions can end up costing tens of thousands of dollars.

If you are a single inventor and you have an invention that you want to patent, expect to spend $1,000 in filing fees and around $5,000 for an attorney to properly, and completely fill out your patent application. Please note that these fees will vary depending on the complexity of your invention.

In some circumstances, your attorney may need to communicate and negotiate your patent application with the USPTO. These cost of these negotiations and communications are costs you'll have to bear in addition to the fees associated with filing your patent application.

Responses by your attorney to the patent office can easily exceed a thousand dollars and you have to take into account that the patent office may reject your application several times before finally granting your patent. So, how do you reduce the costs associated with your patent application? You can choose the do-it-yourself route and try to manage things yourself. Read more below if you want to do it yourself.

Utility Patent Cost

Utility patents protect new, useful products, processes, machines, or improvements of them. Utility patents can cost from $5,000 to $15,000+, this cost includes attorney fees and maintenance fees. Here is the cost breakdown:

  • USPTO Filing Fees: $75 - $300
  • USPTO Search Fees: $165 - $660
  • USPTO Examination Fees: $190 - $760
  • USPTO Issue Fee: $250 - $1,000
  • Patent Maintenance Fees: $400 to $7,400
  • Attorney Fees: $3,000 to $10,000+

Utility parents are expensive because they have to include a detailed description of how the invention works. That said, utility patents are very important if you want to prevent others from using, selling, or importing your product or invention.

A big chunk of the cost associated with utility patents comes from the maintenance fees that have to be paid to keep your patent registration active. If you do not make maintenance payments on time, you will lose your patent.

Design Patent Cost

Design patents protect the aesthetics or ornamental design of a function item. For example, Coke has a patented the design of its Coca Cola Bottles. Generally, design patents costs anywhere between $2,500 to $3,500. These figures includes filing fees and attorney fees. Design patents last for 15 years from the date your design patent is granted. Here is the cost breakdown of a design patent:

  • USPTO Filing Fees: $50 - $200
  • USPTO Search Fees: $40 - $160
  • USPTO Examination Fees: $150 - $600
  • USPTO Issue Fee: $175 - $700
  • Maintenance Fees: Not Applicable to Design Patents
  • Attorney Fees: $1,500 - $3,500

Design patents applications are much easier to complete than utility patent applications. Utility patent applications must include drawings that illustrate the aesthetic or ornamental design that you're seeking to protect. Since they are less complicated than utility patents, they cost considerably less.

So if you have a unique design or shape of an invention that you want to protect, design patents are the way to go.

Plant Patent Cost

The USPTO allows inventors to patent new plant species that are asexually reproduced. The average cost of obtaining a plant patent ranges between $4,000 to $8,000, which includes filing fees, as well as attorneys fees. Plant patents last for 20 years from the date your field your patent application. Here is the cost breakdown for a plant patent:

  • USPTO Filing Fees: $50 - $200
  • USPTO Search Fees: $105- $420
  • USPTO Examination Fees: $155- $620
  • USPTO Issue Fee: $200 - $800
  • Maintenance Fees: Not Applicable to Plant Patents
  • Attorney Fees: $4,000 - $6,500+

Plant patents are the least sought after type of patent, making up less than 1% of all patent applications, but they could prove to be valuable to someone who has discovered a rare type of asexually reproduced plant.

Provisional Patent Cost

Provisional patents are sought by inventors to give their invention patent pending status to attract new investors. Sometimes inventors choose provisional patent application to reserve their priority date while they work on or perfect their invention. Here is the cost breakdown associated with provisional patent applications:

  • USPTO Filing Fees: $70 - $280
  • USPTO Search Fees: Not Applicable
  • USPTO Examination Fees: Not Applicable
  • USPTO Issue Fee: Not Applicable
  • Maintenance Fees: Not Applicable
  • Attorney Fees: $1,000 - $3,000

Provisional patents last for 12 months after which a non-provisional patent application needs to be filed for it to mature into an issued patent. If you don't file a nonprovisional patent application, your provisional patent will expire and you will lose your patent pending status.

Average Cost of a Patent

As you now know the average cost of a patent depends on the type of patent you're applying for and the complexity of your invention. If you apply for a patent yourself you can save some money and we will give you some tips on filing a patent application on your own.

That said, we all agree that patents are expensive (often hundreds to thousands of dollars) but you usually get what you pay for. To make sure you get the best patent possible, spending some time doing research and apply for the correct patent. There are many tools out there that will allow you to perform searches of prior patent so that you know you're the first to patent your invention.

Filing a Patent Application Yourself (Getting a Patent on Your Own)

We personally know a few inventors who have successfully patented their inventions on their own. The law requires the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to help inventors who are applying for a patent without the help of an attorney.

Filing your own patent application could cost a lot less than seeking an attorney's help, but know that it involves a lot of work and you won't have an experienced individual navigating the waters with you.

Before filing a patent application, you should do some research to find out if your idea or invention qualifies for a patent. Once you've determined that you have a patentable invention, fill out the application and make sure to follow the rules very closely.

A single mistake could cause a patent examiner to reject your application, costing you more time and money. There is a large number of minor mistakes that you could make that could get your application rejected, so be diligent and pay close attention to detail. Diligence and attention to detail will save you plenty of time and money down the road.

Here are some of the steps that you can follow to patent your idea or invention:

1) Keep a Record of Your Invention

Record every step that you take while you're in the process of inventing. Describe the functional aspects of your invention and every modification you make. You will also want to notate how you came up with the idea for the invention. If you have the resources, create and test a prototype of your invention. Document all of your efforts and the steps you took to make your invention work the way its supposed to.

2) Ensure that your Invention Qualifies for Patent Protection

There are some requirements that you will have to satisfy to patent your invention. You will have to show that your invention (1) has patentable subject matter, (2) it has a useful purpose, (3) it's new, and (4) your invention must not be obvious.

To meet the novel (new) requirement, your invention has to be different from all of the previous inventions in your field. Conducting a patent search to see if anyone has already patented your idea could save you time and money in trying to patent something that already exists because the patent examiner will reject it and unfortunately the filing fees you paid are not refundable.

3) Gauge the Commercial Success of your Invention

Doing some research to determine whether there is a market for your invention is something you should do before patenting your invention. Even if you are filing your patent application on your own, filing fees alone could cost hundred and even thousands of dollars.

The patent office may make rejections and you may have to communicate with the patent examiner and make modifications to your patent application, this all costs money, so just keep that in mind before you file your patent application.

4) Conduct a Thorough Search of Prior Art

Before applying for a patent, you should make sure that your invention is new and nothing like it exists. To do so, you must search prior art by searching U.S patents and scientific sources to find related inventions.

This part of the process is very time consuming, but at the end of a proper prior arts search, you'll have a good idea if your invention is new and deserves patent protection.

If you search comes up with inventions that are similar to your, you should show how your invention is different from them or how it improves upon them.

5) Prepare and File Your Patent Application with the USPTO

Once you have completed all the necessary research, you will find two types of patent applications. Provisional application and a nonprovisional (regular) application. Provisional patent applications expire after 12 months and are not examined by the USPTO.

The non-provisional application is the full fledged patent application that can mature into a patent. But some inventors choose to file provisional patent applications to add "patent pending" to their products to make them more attractive to investors.

How to Reduce the Cost of a Patent?

We will explore some great ways to reduce the cost of patenting your invention. You can reduce the costs associated with patenting by doing some of the legwork on your own, even before you approach an attorney to help you out. Here are some of the ways you can reduce your costs:

  • First Draft. Create the first draft of your patent application. This can reduce the amount of time an attorney spends on your application
  • Complete Your Invention. Before submitting a patent application, complete your invention. Finalizing your invention's details will help your attorney understand it quicker. The less time your attorney spends on your application, the less you have to pay them.
  • Detailed Explanation. Write down all of the details of your invention and explain them as clearly as possible to your attorney as this will reduce the time your attorney has to work on explaining your invention in the application.
  • File a Provisional Application. If you do not have the money to file a regular nonprovisional patent application, you can file a provisional application. This will save you money in the short term, but remember that you will have a year to file the regular application.

Example of Costs for a Patent

We have covered so much information as to how much patents cost that things may have become a little confusing. If you are a small inventor who wants to patent his new invention, here are is an example of the costs you may encounter:

  • Patent Search by an attorney: $2,000
  • Filling out and preparing a provisional patent application: $2,500
  • Filing the patent application with the USPTO: $140
  • Non-provisional patent application after a provisional patent application: $10,000
  • Filing Fee for the non-provisional patent application: $150
  • Illustrations for non-provisional patent application: $500
  • Total Cost: $15,290

Cost of a Patent

Hopefully this article did a good job at explaining the costs associated with patenting your invention. We covered the cost of a utility patent, design patent, plant patents, and a provisional patent. If you have any general questions or comments about how much a patent costs, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


What Does Patent Pending Mean?

You've probably purchased a product and saw the words "patent pending" on the packaging so you're wondering what does patent pending mean? Patent pending means that an inventor has filed a patent application to protect an idea or invention with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) but has not been granted a patent. After filing a utility, design, or plant patent application, the Patent Office gives you a patent pending serial number to alert the public that you're actively seeking to patent your product or invention.

Patent pending indicates that an inventor is seeking protection, but the scope of protection, or whether a patent will even issue is still undetermined.

Now that you know what patent pending means, you should know that while your patent is pending, you do not have a monopoly over your invention just yet. While your patent is pending at the patent office, an inventor will not be able to sue others for using, making, or selling his invention. An inventor gains the right to restrict others from making and selling his invention once the patent office grants his utility patent application.

You will legally be able to restrict others from using or selling your invention once the USPTO approves or otherwise grants your patent application. Once your patent issues, you can sue anyone who uses or sell your idea or invention.

Your Rights While Your Patent is Pending

While you can't legally enforce your patent to prohibit others from using, making, or profiting from your invention or idea while your patent is pending, you do have some rights. If you have a patent application that is pending, you do have some legal rights if someone else tries to patent something that's the same or similar to your invention.

If someone files a patent that's the same or similar to yours, the USPTO will examine each application and will give priority to the application that was first filed.

The filing date is very important in patent law because the United States has a first to file rule that gives priority to the person who first files their patent application. So, it's very important for you to file your patent application as soon as possible before anyone else does.

It's good practice not to disclose or talk about your invention with anyone before you patent it because if anyone knows the details of your invention, they might file an application with the USPTO before you get a chance. Unfortunately in the U.S even if you invented something first but filed second, the person filing first will have priority over you and could stop you from using or profiting from your own invention if the USPTO grants them a patent.

Provisional Patent Pending

The patent pending status is given when you file for a provisional patent, as well as a non-provisional patent. That said, if you first file a provisional patent application, to maintain your patent pending status, you will need to file a non-provisional patent application within 12 months of filing your provisional patent application. Failure to file a nonprovisional patent application will cause you to lose your patent pending status.

Patent pending status starts whether you file a provisional or nonprovisional patent application. The status ends when you abandon your patent application or your patent is granted.

Patent pending status can remain for a few years depending on the backlog of patent applications at the USPTO. Utility patents are currently taking 28 months on average.

Benefits of Patent Pending

Patent pending status is important for a few reasons that we will now cover.

#1) Patent Pending Alerts Competitors

The first advantage of having patent pending status is to alert other companies that you're in the process of obtaining a patent.

This can deter your competitors from trying to copy your invention. Most companies will not spend money to develop a competing product if they believe that they may infringe on a patent that you may receive in the future.

Without the patent pending status, your potential competitors will have no reasons to think that anyone will object to them copying your product and selling their own variation. Patent pending status may convince your competitors that copying your product or process is not worth the risk.

#2) Patent Pending Status Indicates a New and Inventive Product

The second advantage of patent pending status is that it indicates that your product is new and inventive. Patent pending status can do wonders for your marketing efforts because it invites both your potential customers and investors to believe that your product is special since you made the effort and spent your money to protect it by filing a patent application.

Also, once you've filed your patent application, the USPTO will assign you a patent pending serial number that you can add to your product, it's packaging, and accompanying materials, adding authenticity to your product.

#3) Patent Pending Status Helps you Build a Stronger Case Against Infringers

When you list "patent pending" or "patent applied for" on your product or it's packaging, you will have a stronger argument in court that the infringer's knowingly copied your invention or product. If you can show that an infringer willfully infringed upon your patent, you may be able to persuade the court to award you more damages.

That said, you cannot take legal action against anyone for infringing upon your patent before the patent office grants your patent application.

In some cases, you might even be able to get an injunction prohibiting another party from making or selling your invention, but courts are often hesitant to take any sort of legal action before your patent application is approved by the patent office.

#4) Patent Pending Indication Signifies Innovation

Patent pending notice can be used on a broader level to indicate that your company is innovative is coming up with new and important inventions that deserve legal protection. Also, this notice associates your company with innovation and tells potential customers and investors that you are serious about investing in new tech and protecting your creations.

Overall, notifying the public that you have a pending patent application has benefits, but it's important to balance the benefits with the potential risks. One of the risks you run by filing a patent application is that a competitors will patent around your claimed invention by designing and patenting a product that achieves a desired result differently. That said, some protection is better than none.

When Can you Use "Patent Pending" Status?

You can only write patent pending on your product or invention only after submitting your patent application to the USPTO. Once you've submitted your patent application you can decide whether to include "patent pending" on your product or its accompanying materials.

If you have not yet filed your patent application and do not plan on doing so, do not advertise your product as "patent pending." Fraudulently using the patent pending designation is against the law, so exercise caution when marking products or processes that are not covered by a pending patent application.

How to Get a Patent Pending

To get the patent pending status you can either file a provisional patent application or a non-provisional patent application with the USPTO. Provisional patent applications are less strict and are the quickest way to get patent pending status.

This will allow you to share your invention or idea with the public while reducing the threat of anyone stealing your idea. The fee you need to pay to file a provisional patent application depends on the size of your business. Here are the USPTO fees for provisional patent application as of June, 2019:

  • Micro Entity: $70
  • Small Entity: $140
  • Large Entity: $280

Filing a provisional patent application to get patent pending status is the lowest cost option you have. All you need to file a provisional application is a detail description of how your invention words, the applicable use of your invention, and drawings of your invention.

Remember that your patent pending status is good as long as you have not abandoned your patent application. Provisional patent applications have a life of 12 months. You must file a non-provisional patent application prior to the 12 month if you want to continue to market your product as patent pending.

No Patent Pending Protection

If you do not file a patent application, you will not be able to restrict others from making, using, or otherwise selling your invention. Also, you will not be able to benefit by using the patent pending status.

Your competitors may see you as someone who doesn't care about their intellectual property. This becomes a problem if your invention is successful, if copycats get wind of it, they might copy it and make their own competing product.

When Does Patent Pending Status End?

Your patent pending status ends when either of two things happens. It ends if (1) you abandon your patent application or (2) the patent office grants your patent application. So long as your application is pending at the trademark office, your patent pending status will remain in full effect.

Once your patent pending status ends, you must not use the words patent pending anymore. If the patent office issues or grants your patent application, you should replace the term "patent pending" with "patented." If you abandon your application, you should immediately stop using the term "patent pending."

How to Stop Copiers During Patent Pending?

The law does offer patent application some protection while their patent application is in its pending phase but it's not as powerful as the protection that you'll get if your patent application is granted.

This is so because not every patent application will become a patent. Thus, it would not be appropriate to allow patent applications to stop others from making, using, or selling the invention described in their application especially when there is a chance that the USPTO may reject their application.

To show infringement in the patent pending status, an applicant will have to show the following:

  • The royalties begin after your patent is published and not the date it was filed,
  • You must show that the copier had actual notice of your patent application,
  • The claims in your application must be substantially identical at the time the patent application is granted as they were when the application was published

The most difficult requirement is the substantially identical requirement because inventors often make changes to the claims while the patent examiner prosecutes their patent application. During the examination stage, your patent attorney negotiates the scope of your invention with the patent examiner to determine what will be allowed in the issued patent.

Frequently Asked Patent Pending Questions

#1) Does patent pending status give full patent protection?

No, patent pending status does not provide full patent protection. To prevent others from using, manufacturing, or otherwise profiting from your invention, you will need to file and receive a full patent.

#2) What Does Patent Pending Mean?

Patent pending means that a patent application has been filed with the USPTO and although you don't have a patent yet, you'll be able to say that your invention is "patent pending." It tells others that you've taken steps to protect your invention.

#3) Is my patent public while my patent application is pending?

USPTO claims to keep all inventions confidential until the patent is granted or the application is published. Once your patent application is published, anyone may request a copy of the application file.

#4) When Can you Start Using "Patent Pending" on your Product and its materials?

You can begin using patent pending status as soon as you file either a provisional patent application or a non-provisional patent application.

Patent Pending Concluded

We hope this article answered your common questions about patent pending status. We also explained your rights while your patent is pending and when you can using the patent pending designation. If you have any more questions regarding patent pending status of your patent application, please feel free to leave a comment below.


Different Types of Patents offered by the USPTO

Different Types of Patents

If you're a company or inventor, knowing the different types of patents is essential to securing the right type of intellectual property protection for your idea or invention. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers inventor three types of patent with which they can protect their inventions. The types of patents include: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. We will cover these three types of patents in detail below.

The law grants inventors different types of patents depending on the subject matter of the invention. Learning about the different types of patent applications will help you better navigate intellectual property law to protect your idea or invention.

What Are the Different Types of Patents?

We will now cover all of the different types of patents that you can apply for at the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

  • Utility Patents. Utility Patents are the most type of applied for patents, making up more than 90% of applied for patents. Utility patents protect any new and useful machine, process, manufacture, or composition of matter, or an improvement of them. Utility patents last for 20 years from the filing date of your patent application.
    • Software Patents. Software patents fall under utility patents and they are used by developers to protect new aspects of their software. Software patents offer developers broader protection than copyright law and so many developers opt for patent protection. That said, software patents are complex so finding an experienced software patent attorney is in your best interest and could save you time and money down the road.
    • Business Method Patents. This type of patent involves patenting a business method that is combined with technology, resulting in a new way of doing business. Obtaining a business method patent is quite tricky so having a patent attorney who can navigate the muddy waters of business method patents will save you time and money and will give you a better chance of getting your patent application approved.
  • Design Patents. Design patents are used to protect the ornamental design of a functional item. Design patents can be used to protect items like Jewelry, beverage containers, and furniture. Design patents offer protection that's similar to trade dress protection under trademark law. To protect your design you have to file a design patent application that illustrates the specific design that you're seeking to protect. Design patents offer 15 years of protection that starts from the day your design patent application is granted.
  • Plant Patents. The USPTO allows inventors to obtain plant patents to protect newly invented strains of asexually reproduced plants. Asexual reproduction means that an inventor can reproduce the plant without the use of any seeds. Agriculturists do this by cutting or grafting parts of the plant. So, why does this USPTO have this requirement? The asexual reproduction requirement proves that the inventor can duplicate the plant. Plant patents last for 20 years from the filing date of a plant patent application.
  • Reissue Patent. Reissue patents are patent that are issued by the USPTO to correct a significant error in an already granted patent. Reissued patent can be issued for utility, design, or plant patents. Just know that reissue patents do not extend the term of your original patent because they only correct errors in the original patent.

Just to recap, the most common types of patents include utility patents (how a product functions), design patents (how a product looks), and plant patents (new species of plants). Other types of patents include provisional patents and we will cover these below.

Provisional vs Nonprovisional Patent Application

To obtain a patent, an inventor must first file a patent application with the USPTO. If your invention falls under utility patents, you will find two types of patent applications: a provisional patent application and a non-provisional patent application.

Provisional Patent Application

A provisional patent application is often filed with the patent office instead of a (regular) nonprovisional patent application because it requires less work and it's also less expensive than preparing and filing a nonprovisional application. Provisional patents help inventors secure an early filing date, but they can never turn into a patent.

This application is often used when an inventor has a great idea or invention and wants to secure a priority date even though he is not 100% ready to file a complete patent application because he is still working on the invention.

So, why would you rush to the USPTO to file a provisional patent application? The United States has what is known as a first inventor to file system, which basically means that the first inventor to file a patent application will be issued a patent if he can satisfy all of the patent requirements.

Assuming you satisfy all of the requirements and you receive a patent, you'll be able to restrict others from using, selling, or otherwise profiting from your invention.

So, what do provisional patent applications require? Provisional patent applications only require you to provide a description and drawing(s) of an invention, but do not require formal patent claims, declarations, or informational disclosure statements.

Provisional patent application are not examined by the patent office, instead they function as a placeholder in time to secure an early filing date for your invention.

Non Provisional Patent Application

The non provisional patent application is a regular utility patent application. It's the application that you file for the USPTO to review and hopefully grant your patent application.

Unlike the provisional patent application, a non provisional patent application can mature into a patent. While the provisional patent application is easy to fill out and doesn't have too many requirements, the non provisional is quite the opposite, it long and there are a lot of rules that you have to follow, breaking even one of the rules can get your application rejected by the USPTO.

Since non provisional patent applications are reviewed, they must follow a certain format and they must makes at least one claim. Non provisional applications are typically written by patent attorneys who know how to adhere the USPTO's strict format.

Which One Should you File? (Provisional vs Non-provisional)

If you need more time to perfect your invention, you can start out by filing a provisional patent, this should give you an extra year to decide if you want to file a non provisional (regular) utility patent.

For example, you have developed a new breaking system for bikes that offers better breaking than conventional bike breaks. You make prototypes and find out that they can stop bikes safely in half the distance of traditional bike brakes.

As you apply for a patent, you should consider all of the ways that you can protect your new invention. You can file a utility patent to protect the breaks themselves. You can file a design patent to protect the distinctive look of your improved breaking system. You can even file a provisional patent application to give yourself some time to file your utility patent application, as well as to learn more about your invention and the market for your patent.

Why Should you Know the Different Types of Patents?

If you want to protect your invention, you need to know the different types of available protection. Patents are a form of intellectual property (IP) that encourage inventors to create new products by giving them a monopoly over their inventions for a limited period of time.

Since the USPTO has different types of patents, you need to know what protection to seek for your invention. If you file a design patent application to protect a functional aspect of your invention, your patent application will be rejected and the money you paid to file your application will be lost. So, doing some research before filing your application will save you tons of money and time.

Defensive Publication

Defensive publication, also known as defensive disclosure, is an intellectual property (IP) strategy that is used to disclose an invention to the public to prevent others from patenting a product, process, or invention.

Those engaging in defensive publication disclose a description and/or drawing of a product or invention so that it enters the public domain and becomes prior art, preventing anyone from patenting the disclosed invention.

Disclosing an invention that is otherwise patentable defeats the novelty of subsequent patent applications. This is so because subsequent patent applications will have nothing new to disclose to the public since the invention has already been disclosed to the public, defeating the novelty requirement that patent applications must satisfy.

Some companies use defensive publication because patenting their invention is expensive, often costing thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of the invention.

The benefit of defensive publishing is that the content becomes public in a matter of hours or days, rather than years required to patent an invention.

For a few hundred dollars, publishing a technical disclosure will help you:

  • Block competitors from obtaining a patent over your invention
  • Reduce the cost of filing and prosecuting a patent application
  • Secure the freedom to operate and use your patent

Benefits of Utility Patents

Although utility patents are more expensive than design patents, they offer superior protection for your idea or invention. Here are some of the benefits of utility patents:

  • Protect the function aspects of your invention
  • Provide broad protection, making it difficult for a competitor to copy your invention without committing patent infringement
  • Capable of protecting many variations of your product all with a single patent

Benefits of Design Patents

Design patents are the least common type of patent filed with the USPTO, but they are easier to get and cheaper than utility patents. Design patents have some benefits that include:

  • Design patents protect the appearance of your product
  • They are cheaper to get than utility patents
  • You can get them faster than utility patent as they typically take 1 to 2 years.

When Should you File Both a Design Patent Application and a Utility Patent Application?

If you invented something that has unique function coupled with a unique appearance, you should consider protecting your invention by filing both a utility patent application and a design patent application. Once you've filed your applications, you can notate that your invention is "patent pending." Also, you should consider contacting an attorney to help you with filing your patent application, depending on the complexity of your invention. This could save you time and money.

When Should You File for a Patent?

If you've invented something new and you want to make money from it, you should protect it with a patent. If you decide that patent protection is something that you want, you should file your patent with the USPTO as soon as possible so that you're the first to file.

The USPTO has a first to file standard that gives priority to the first person to file the patent for the invention. So, if you invented something first, and someone later invents the same thing, if they file before you, they will get the patent and will be able to restrict you from using, selling, or profiting from the invention.

Just remember that the patent office works very slowly. Applications tend to anywhere from 18 to 30 months to approve applications, so the earlier you file, the sooner you can commercialize and profit from your invention.

When Should you Not File for a Patent?

If you're invention isn't new or can't be commercialized, don't waste your time and money on obtaining a patent.

We know that many of you have great ideas and inventions, but it only makes sense to patent it if you know that you can commercialize it and make a profit from it.

Many great ideas never see the success they deserve, so if you feel that you can't successfully sell and profit from your invention, don't waste time and money that you'll never get back.

Also, it's always a good idea to perform a patent search before filing a patent. People sometimes they think that they've invented something new, only to find out that someone else had invented the same or something similar to their invention. You can perform this search on your own, but we recommend hiring an experienced patent attorney to do the research for you.

Examples of the Different Types of Patents

  • Utility Patents
    • Getting a patent over a new breaking system for bicycles. Utility patents last for 20 years from the date you first filed your patent application
  • Software Patents
    • Amazon's 1 Click to Buy Button. Software patents last for 20 years from the date you first filed your software patent application
  • Design Patents
    • Coca Cola Design patent for the appearance of its Coke Bottles. Design patents last for 15 years from when your design patent is granted.
  • Plant Patents
    • A farmer who creates a new species of mangoes. Plant patents last for 20 years from the date you first filed your plant patent

Information Required for the Different Types of Patents

The USPTO requires inventors seeking patent protection to disclose certain information about their invention. Here are the typical things you'll need to fill out in any patent application.

  • Title. You will need to find common words associated with your patent. These words should include words that consumers would recognize as relevant to your invention.
  • Claim. You are required to state at least one claim of your invention. The claim can be the invention's purpose or unique function, or design.
  • Cross Reference. This document claims priority for your patent. You must list current patent applications.
  • Disclosure. If your invention was sponsored by anyone or the Government, you must disclose that in the disclosure section of your patent application.
  • Background. You should give a simple explanation of how you invented the product or process you're seeking patent protection for.
  • Figures. You must label the drawings included in your application with figure numbers. Using a document, label each figure with simple and easy to understand wording.
  • Abstract. You can offer a document that summarizes your invention

Filing Your Patent Application

Your invention will dictate the type of patent you need to file for. You have to choose between the different types of patents: utility patent, design patent, or plant patent. Once you've chosen the appropriate patent, you'll need to fill out the corresponding patent application on the USPTO's website. If you feel comfortable doing so on your own, you can fill out the application yourself, however if you need assistance, contacting an experienced attorney to navigate the different types of patents is another great option.


what can you patent

What Can Be Patented?

If you're someone who has been working on an invention in your garage for months and have finally invented something useful, you might be wondering: can my invention be patented? We are here to explain what inventions or ideas can be patented and why protecting your invention is a good idea. We will cover what you can patent and how to choose between utility patents or design patents.

Under United States patent law, any person who comes up with a new invention, process, or design to protect it with a patent. To patent an invention, an inventor will have to satisfy four requirements that we will cover below to qualify for a patent. Source

Why Should You Patent Your Invention?

If you've invented something you've probably heard that to make money from it, the first thing you need to do is protect your idea before someone steals it. By protecting your invention, you will put yourself in a position to control who can use your invention and who can profit from and who cannot. If you've invented something that is commercially viable, protecting your invention can increase the chances that you'll be able to profit from creating your invention. Now that we have encouraged you to patent your invention, you should figure out whether your invention is patentable? To find out, read below.

What Can You Patent?

You can patent an invention if it has a useful purpose, has a patentable subject matter, is novel, and is non-obvious. Patents cover compositions, production processes, machines, tools, new plant species, and improvement to existing inventions.

The 4 Elements that must be satisfied to qualify for a patent are:

  • An invention must have patentable subject matter
  • Invention must have a useful purpose (utility)
  • Invention must be novel
  • Invention must not be obvious

We will describe the four elements that you need to qualify for a patent in detail below.

Step#1 What is Patentable Subject Matter?

To patent an invention, your invention must meet the USPTO's patentable subject matter requirement. Patentable subject matter requires the subject matter of an invention to fall within one of the following categories: process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter. That said, once you have patentable subject matter, you must still satisfy the remaining statutory requirements of utility, novelty, and nonoviousness. So, what are some patentable subject matters?

What Does U.S Law list as Patentable Subject Matter?

The U.S Government has compiled a list of subject that it calls "Patentable Subject Matter." The list includes the following items:

  • A new plant type that exists through asexual reproduction
  • A machine (with moving parts or circuitry)
  • A process or method (for example, a new way of doing something better and/or more efficiently or a series of steps for carrying out a given task)
  • A simple tool that can do something (examples include pencils, screwdrivers, shovels, erasers, etc.)
  • A new composition or formula
  • A manufacture (serves as a "catch all" category for human made items that don't have moving parts, example: insulating sleeve for hot drinks or a helically grooved football)

What Can be Patented? | Examples of patentable subject matter include the following:

  • Electronics
  • Computer Hardware
  • Computer Software
  • Machines
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Fabrics & Fabric Design
  • Process or method for doing something
  • Manufactured Articles
  • New Types of Plant
  • Makeup
  • Perfumes
  • Musical Instruments
  • Games
  • Jewelry

What Can't be Patented? | Examples of non-patentable subject matter include:

  • Discoveries
  • Scientific Theories
  • Mathematical Formulas
  • Naturally Occurring Substances
  • Laws of Nature
  • Presentation of Information
  • Procedure for Surgical Treatment
  • data packets transmitted over the internet
  • Substances found in nature

Step#2 Patent Usefulness (Utility) Requirement

The second requirement you have to satisfy to patent your invention is the utility (usefulness) requirement. Although U.S.C § 101 states that patent me be new and useful, the statute does not define what useful means, so we have to rely on case law to fill in the gaps.

To make things easier, the satisfy the usefulness requirement, the invention must have some real-world use. Often, applicants explicitly state the utility requirement in the patent application, however this is not always necessary especially in cases where the utility requirement is apparent.

For example, if you invent a new type of hammer, the utility of the hammer would be apparent. Even though the utility requirement is a low threshold, you probably won't gain anything from hiding the utility of your invention and relying on the patent examiner to figure out the utility of your invention.

If you have an invention that has a difficult utility purpose to understand, take the time to explain to what purpose your invention serves (what problem is it trying to solve). This will reduce the risk that patent examiner will reject your application on the basis that it "lacks" utility.

In the event that your application gets rejected on the basis that it lacks utility, the USPTO will give you a chance to amend your application to claim a specific utility. Once amended, the patent examiner will re-examine your application to determine whether your invention meets the utility requirement.

Overall, most inventions pass the utility rest. It's a relatively easy part of the application process.

Note that only utility patents must satisfy the utility requirement. Design and plant patents do need to make a showing of utility.

Step#3 Your Invention Must be "Novel"

An invention is "novel" if it's different from any other patented inventions, known as prior art. To be novel, the patent must be different from prior art, this includes anything that already exists in the public domain, prior patents, published patent applications, and publications available to the public and items on sale. The patent examiner will compare your invention by looking at the following items to determine whether your invention is novel:

  • Already patented inventions
  • Some patent applications filed before the inventor filed a patent
  • An invention that is patented overseas
  • Items on sale at the time of filing your patent application

If you want to profit from your invention you should probably patent but make sure you keep your invention secret until you obtain a patent. This is so because you have one year to file a patent application from the date you first published or first sold the patented item.

To wrap things up, the novel requirement requirement is quite simple and requires a showing that:

  1. No earlier patent exists covering your invention
  2. The invention isn't in the public domain
  3. No published applications of the invention exist
  4. No public versions of the invention exist
  5. The inventor cannot have sold an earlier version of the invention
  6. The inventor should not have disclosed any information about the invention more than a year before filing the patent application
  7. The inventor cannot have a joint-inventor who finds out about the disclosure more than a year before filing the patent application

Step#4 Your Patent must be Nonobvious

For the Patent Office to approve your patent application, your invention must be "nonobvious." Said differently, this means that people who are skilled the field of your invention would not consider your new invention obvious.

An invention is obvious if the differences between the item sought to be patented and prior art are such that your invention would have not been obvious at the time a patent application for a prior patent was filed describing the invention.

Overall, an invention is obvious when someone knowledgeable in the area of your invention looks at your invention and considers it to be already known. The person making this determination can look at several references to make this determination.

Obviousness is a fact-based and subjective inquiry that should be approached with an open-mind. Many inventors are not capable of making an honest determination, making the obviousness inquiry a significant hurdle for those seeking to patent their invention.

When determining whether a patent is obvious, the patent examiner will look to see if you're merely combining two different items of prior art in to make your invention. If the examiner finds that combining prior art A + prior art B makes your invention obvious. You need to experiment and attempt to combine A+B to determine whether the invention works as the examiner predicted. If you can show that A+B does not work as expected or predicted by the patent examiner, you can use that as evidence to rebut the patent examiner's rejection of your patent application.

Factors to Determine Nonobviousness

The nonobviousness of a filed for patent can be determined by looking a the following four factors:

  • The difference between prior art and the challenged claims
  • The level of ordinary skill in the field of pertinent art the time plaintiff filed his application
  • what one possessing that level of skill would have deemed to be obvious from the prior art reference
  • Objective evidence of obviousness
  • Objective evidence of nonobviousness

Objective evidence of obviousness / nonobviousness includes:

  1. The commercial success of the invention
  2. Whether the invention served some needed purpose
  3. Failure of others to find a solution for the problem at hand
  4. Copying done by others
  5. Licensing by others
  6. Skepticism of experts

That said, nonobviousness is one of the most difficult elements to explain because of the subjectivity involved in making the decision. Two people looking at your invention may come to different conclusions, one could say that your invention is obvious while the other can conclude it's nonobvious.

Can you Patent a Design?

Yes, you can patent a design. A design patent gives you legal claim to your original design, allowing you to exclusively use it, sell it, and profit from the unique look of your object. If you want a design patent, you can file a Design Patent Application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Design patents will only protect the look of your object. Design Patents are significantly different than utility patents, which cover how an item works and how they're used.

To qualify for a design patent, you have to show the following two things:

  • The design does not affect the function of the object
  • The design is integral to an object and the design cannot be removed

Design patents are important because they allow you to be the only person who profits from your design, giving you the ability to prosecute anyone who uses your design without your consent.

Can you Patent a Plant?

Yes, you can apply for a plant patent to protect your creation of a new plant species. Plant patents last for 20 years.

To qualify for a plant patent, you must show that:

  • The plant is novel
  • The plant is nonobvious
  • The plan is produced through asexual production

Can you Patent Software?

Some software functions that use algorithms and mathematics can be patented if they produce concrete and useful results. However, software that only performs mathematical equations cannot be patented. In a nutshell, software that converts one set of numbers to another will not be granted a patent, whereas software that produces useful and helpful results may be patentable.

Patent Scope

If you're thinking about patenting your invention, you've probably asked what is the scope of my patent? Patents are federal rights and once the USPTO grants your patent, you will be able to enforced it throughout the United States regardless of the state that you live in. That said, you cannot enforce a U.S patent outside of the United States.

Patent Life

Utility Patents: Last for 20 years from the date you file your patent application

Plan Patent Term: Last for 20 years from the date you file your patent application

Design Patent Term: Last for 14 years from date your patent is granted

What Inventions Can be Patented Conclusion

Hopefully this article helped you figure out whether your invention can be patented. We covered the differences between utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. We went into the requirements of getting a utility patent and design patents. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below and will reply as soon as we get a chance. Patent on!


Percentage and number of patents that are filed and approved each year

What Percentage of Patents Are Approved?

Inventors choose to protect their ideas and inventions by filing patents. A key element that inventors consider before filing their patent application is whether it will succeed. In the United States over 600,000 patents applications are filed each year at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This number includes the number of utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. So, exactly what percentage of patents get approved? We will answer what number of patents get approved each year in the U.S and elsewhere.

Before we dive in, we just wanted to remind you that patent applications are formal requests that are made to the USPTO (United State Patent and Trademark Office). The patent application includes a set of one or more claim that a person needs to make part of their application to get the application approved and a patent issued.

The trend of how many patent applications will get approved in the upcoming years is interesting to see, especially since the number of patents that are granted increases slightly every year. As of writing this article (2019), the USPTO has only made the patent statistics up to 2015 available, so a lot of the calculations that you'll see below are based on numbers from 1963 to 2015.

What Number of Patents are Approved?

The number of patents that are approved changes every year. According to the most recent statistics from the USPTO, approximately 52% of all patents filed in the U.S are approved. In 2015, 629,647 patent applications were filed and 325,979 were approved. The number of patent applications continues to increase ever-so-slightly every year. The number of granted patents is also on the rise, rising from 47% in 2010 to 52% in 2015. See the table below for more info on the number of patents that are filed and approved each year in the United States (US).

How Many Patents Are Filed Each Year?


Year of Application
Grant
Total Patent
Applications
Total Patent
Grants
Percentage of Patents
Approved
2015629,647325,97951.7%
2014615,243326,03252.9%
2013609,052302,94849.7%
2012576,763276,78847.9%
2011535,188247,71346.2%
2010520,277244,34146.9%

Having said that, you should consider the fact that calculating the number of new patents that are granted is difficult because the numbers that we presented here includes patent application that were initially rejected after being examined. After being rejected, inventors re-apply for "new," very similar patents that are known as "continuations."

A study conducted by Yale University showed that between 1963 to 2005, the USPTO allowed only 11.4% of new patent applications that are unrelated to any other patent application while giving a non-final rejection to more than 86% of newly filed patent applications.

2.3% of patent applications were abandoned prior to the USPTOs issuance of a first action decision.

That said there is some upside as the USPTO granted 36% of patent applications after one or more rounds of amendments and negotiations with the patent examiner. Approximately 14% of patent application were abandoned between the USPTOs non-final rejection and final rejection. Source

How Many Utility Patents Are Filed Each Year?

This table from the USPTO shows you how many utility patents are filed for each year in the United States, as well as the number of utility patents that are approved every year.


Year of Application GrantNumber of Utility Applications Filed Each YearNumber of Approved ApplicationsPercentage of Approved Applications
2015589,410298,40750.6%
2014578,802300,67751.9%
2013571,612277,83548.6%
2012542,815253,15546.7%

How Many Design Patents Are Filed Each Year?

This table from the USPTO shows you how many design patents are filed for each year in the United States, as well as the number of design patents that are approved every year.


Year of Application GrantNumber of Design Patent Application Filed Each YearNumber of Approved ApplicationsPercentage of Approved Applications
201539,09725,98666.4%
201435,37823,65766.8%
201336,03423,46865.1%
201232,79921,95166.9%

Patent Approval Rate

Some critics of the USPTO argue that patent examiners are sloppy and issue low-quality patents. Some even claim that over 95% of patent applications are eventually approved. So, are they right? The short answer is "no," they're not right according to the USPTO numbers that we summarized for you in the chart above. The patent approval rate in the U.S today is close to 52%, very far off from the 95% figure that some claim. So, if you think that the USPTO is handing out patents freely, you're gravely mistaken. So, what are some of the reasons why the USPTO rejects patent applications? Read below to find out.

Top 3 Reasons for Receiving a Patent Rejection

  • Invention is Not Novel. To get your patent application approved, your USPTO patent examiner must find your invention to be novel, non-obvious, and meets the patentability criteria. This is a subjective determination based on the opinion of the examiner that's assigned to your patent. So, if your invention is not the first of its kind (lacks novelty), the patent examiner might reject it on the basis of the patentability criteria. Also, if the examiner find that there is another invention that is the same as yours and was invented before yours, the examiner might find that your invention lacks novelty. Therefore, before applying for a patent, you should do a patent search to find out whether there is a similar invention to yours.
  • Your Invention is Obvious. The second most common reason for the rejection of patents is the fact that your invention needs to be nonobvious. So, not only does your invention need to be novel, it must also be non-obvious. The USPTO patent examiner will make this subjective determination, as well. Said differently, your invention must be unique. To reduce the chances of being rejected, you should make sure that your invention is as unique as possible from anything that's already out there. The more unique, the better the chances that the patent examiner will find you invention to be nonobvious. If you happen to receive non-final rejection letter from the USPTO, you should look for an attorney who will file a response argument, claiming that your invention has certain features and components that you did not cite in your patent application, this could get your invention approved.
  • Errors in Your Patent Application. The third most common reason patent applications get rejected is due to informality errors in the patent application and these include: (1) issues with reference numbers on drawings (2) issues with paragraph numbers (3) issues with line numbers (4) grammatical or punctuation issues (5) missing abstract (6) exceeding word count on abstract. Second, your patent application may be rejected if you have not sufficiently described how your invention works. As part of your patent application, make sure that you have described how your invention will work. If you fail to accurately describe your invention, the patent office won't be able to determine that your invention is patentable.

Percentage of Patents that are Approved in the U.S

We hope this article was able to shed some light on the percentage and number of patents that are approved each year by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


How Long do Drug Patents Last (ANSWERED)

Drug patents have sprung a debate around how effective the patent system is in the United States. Drug makers want drug patent life to be extended while generic drug manufacturers want to reduce the lifespan of pharmaceutical drug patents. This article will cover how long drug patents last in the U.S, as well as other countries, such as Canada, the UK, and Australia. We will also cover the importance of drug patents.

Every year the pharmaceutical drug market gets rattled by the expiration of patents on blockbuster drugs and medications. When brand name drugs expire, this opens the door for generic substitutes to enter the market. That said, just because a patent on a brand name drug expires does not mean that a generic substitute will be immediately available, drug manufacturers use several methods to block generics from entering the market for as long as possible.

Before we dive in, let's take a look at how long drug patents last in the U.S.

How Long Do Drug Patents Last For?

In the United States, attorneys often throw out the 20 year patent term without adding more detail. That said, Drug patents last for 20 years from your earliest patent filing date. For patents filed before June 8, 1995, the patent will last 20 years from the filing date or 17 years after the patent was issued, whichever is later. Source

This means that the 20 year term for drug patents does not start from the date the drug was brought to market, but rather from the date that the drug was invented and the drug patent application was filed.

Drug patents can easily take 8 to 10 years to be issued because of all the testing that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requires from the person or company filing for the drug patent.

Why do Drug Patents Take so Long in the United States?

Drug patents take so long because the FDA requires drug makers to conduct tests and experiments on human beings to test the drug's efficacy and side effects. The more data the FDA requires, the longer the patent will take to be granted. While the drug is undergoing all of these trials and testing the 20 year patent clock is running.

Because pharmaceutical drugs take so long to be issued by the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office), pharmaceutical companies are always looking for ways to extent the patent life of their top-selling drugs.

So, you might be asking yourself, why is it so important for pharmaceutical makers to extend the life of their patents? It's important because they are business to make money and extending the patent term (patent life) of their top-selling medications means that they can make more money for a longer period of time.

Some criticize the U.S patent system for rewarding pharmaceutical manufacturers by granting them market exclusivity for long periods of time that enables them to recoup their research and development (R&D) expenses along with hefty profits.

That said, it may be easy to blame the U.S Government and the pharmaceutical makers' lawyers for creating such a system, but the length of market exclusivity in the United States is what encourages so many companies to develop new, helpful drugs in the first place. Also, it's what encourages them to introduce their treatments first in the United States. This is why drugs generally reach the U.S market more quickly than any other place on earth. So, is market exclusivity really a bad thing? That's up to you to decide.

How Long do Drug Patents Last in Canada?

The law in Canada provides 20 years of drug patent protection that starts on the day a company files its drug patent application. The actual length of market exclusivity is between 8 to 10 years in Canada because of the extensive testing and regulatory hurdles that drug makers have to go through before bringing their pharmaceuticals to market. Source

In Canada, the government requires new drugs to undergo certain procedures that reduce the patent life of drugs. Such procedures include clinical trials, new drug reviews, and listing requirements with the Federal Canadian Government as well as Provincial Authorities.

Some argue that Canada may lose out on the next wave of lucrative pharmaceutical investments unless it develops a patent system that is on par with the U.S Patent System. Some suggest "restoring patent life" to offset the regulator delays that occur when introducing new pharmaceutical drugs to market. But, this view has been met with some criticism claiming that adding to the patent life of brand names drugs has the potential to raise generic drug prices for consumers and insurers alike.

That said, if Canada wants to encourage multinational drug companies to do business there, improving its intellectual property protections will definitely bring in more companies willing to invest their money and time in Canada.

How Long do Drug Patents Last in the UK?

UK Drug patents last for 20 years from the date of filing the patent application. To obtain a patent in the UK, you need to file your patent application at the UK Intellectual Property Office. Source

The UK Intellectual Property Office offers similar patent protection to inventors as is afforded by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

How Long do Drug Patents Last in Australia?

In Australia, pharmaceutical drug patents last up to 25 years from the filing date of your application. The Australian Intellectual Property Office requires inventions to be new, non-obvious, and different from existing technology. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your invention and the protection you are seeking, examination of your patent may take between six months to several years. Source

Why is Drug Patent Life Important?

Drug patent life is important because the longer a patent on a specific drug, the longer time a manufacturer has market exclusivity. What this means is that a drug maker can sell the brand name drug for as long as possible to recoup its investment and profit from selling the drug.

If drug manufactures don't have a long enough drug patent term, they will have spent enormous sums of money developing and testing their drug to get it approved and by the time they get to market, they wouldn't have enough time to recoup their investment and profit from the hard work it took them to develop the drug.

Drugs makes a lot of money once they hit the market and millions of people depend on them. When the patent life on a brand name drug expires, generic manufacturers step in, engineer a new drug with a similar chemical composition and sell it at a much reduced cost. Once this happens, most people stop purchasing the brand name drug and opt to purchase the cheaper, generic alternative.

Although some may disagree with this statement, but protecting brand name drugs is important because it encourages large companies to invest their time and money in developing new drugs to treat the ever-growing number of ailments that we suffer from. Without decent patent protection, drug makers won't be incentivised to invest their time and money in coming up with new cures.

When a company owns a patent for a drug, the drug is sold under a brand name. While the patent is in effect, doctors prescribe the brand name drug. This gives the brand name drug company a monopoly over the drug until the patent period ends. The long brand name drug companies have patents over the brand name drug, the longer before other companies can make generic versions to make them more affordable.

Some argue that the current patent term stifles lowering drug prices and making them more accessible to the masses, we disagree because if the brand name drug company wouldn't have had to reason to develop and market the new drug, there wouldn't be a cure at all. If you disagree, please feel free to leave us a comment on why you disagree.

Examples of Brand Name Drug Patents that Have Recently Expired

Here are some blockbuster brand name drugs that have patents that expired in the past year:

  • Lyrica. In December of 2018 the patent on Lyrica was set to expire. Lyrica was developed by Pfizer to treat to for nerve and muscle pain. The drug made Pfizer $3.45 billion dollars in sales. Last time we checked, Pfizer was working on extending the patent and in November of 2018, it was able to extend the patent's life to June 30th, 2019.
  • Cialis. Cialis was approved in 2003 to treat erectile dysfunction. Cialis has been a major seller for Eli Lilly since its approval, however Cialis entered into a settlement with generic drug manufacturers to have its patent expire in September of 2018.
  • Xolair. Novartis and Roche developed Xolair to treat allergic asthma and chronic idiopathic urtcarial. Their patent expired in 2018 but only after raking in hefty sales.
  • Neulasta. Amgen developed Neulasta, which helps the body make more white blood cells after receiving cancer medication. The drug brought in $4 billion in sales for Amgen in 2014. Neulasta's drug patent expired in 2015.
  • Zytiga. Johnson & Johnson lost its patent on Zytiga it's profitable prostate cancer therapy medication in 2018, opening the door for viable generics to compete.

What Factors Reduce Drug Patent Life?

The main factor that reduces drug patent life is that the 20 year patent clock starts ticking as soon as drug is invented and a patent application is filed with the USPTO. This means that pharma manufacturers lose time while they are seeking FDA approval for their drug while not being able to sell it for 7 to 10 years until they get approval.

This means that 10 out of they 20 years are lost while the FDA approves the drug, leaving 10 years for the drug makers to profit from their product. Some have considered legislation which would give drug makers 15 years to sell their drug from the date the drug becomes available in the market. That said, this is quite complicated and a lot of policy considerations have to be taken into account.

Currently, drug companies do whatever they can to extend the patent life of their drug to maximize their profits. Lets explore whether patent term restoration addresses this problem.

Drug Patent Term Restoration

To address the patent life that is lost while the FDA approves human drugs, Congress allowed patent term restoration. PTR (Patent Term Restoration) seeks to compensate drug makers for the time lost while the FDA approves their medication.

PTR allows drug makers to extend their drug's life for a maximum of 5 years regardless of how many years the company lost while waiting for FDA approval. There is a second restriction on patent term restoration which limits the patent life of a drug to 14 years from the date that the FDA approves the drug.

Although some limitations apply to patent term restoration, the added patent life can make some pharmaceutical manufacturers billions of dollars, especially if they are the only ones with a treatment for a specific illness or disease.

We will cover more ways that are used by brand name drug makers to extend the patent life of their blockbuster drugs below.

How do Brand Name Drug Companies Extend the Life of their Drug Patents?

  • Pediatric Exclusivity. Many brand name drug manufacturers are extending the terms of their patents by claiming pediatric exclusivity. They do so by seeking to test a drug on children and by doing so, the USPTO grants them an additional 6 months of patent life. Companies can do this two times using the same drug. Now, you're probably saying to yourself that six months is too short, but in some cases, this could literally help a drug maker make tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars, depending on the popularity of the drug.
  • Different Versions. A trick that many drug makers use to extend the term life of their patent is by combining medical components in a different way. For example, Adderall XR was reformulated from the already patented Adderall by creating an extended release version that extends the drug's period of effectiveness. Other manufactures have sough administering the drug in a different way. For example, Limitrex a well-known migraine drug originally sold in tablet form was reformulated for intranasal delivery, this extended the patent life of the drug.
  • New Use Rule. The FDA allows patent extensions of three years if a drug manufacturer finds a "new use" for its drug. What this basically means is that if a manufacturer discover that its drug can treat a different illness or achieve a different remedy, they can increase the patent for an additional three years on the basis of the drug's new purpose.
  • Chemical Adjustment. Drug makers often make adjustments to the amount of isomers in a medication. By doing this, they are essentially changing the drug and they can patent the the drug as a completely "new drug," thereby extending its patent life. This situation occurs when an isomer doesn't make a drug more effective, allowing manufacturers to remove it and "purify" the drug, making it something that's completely new and therefore patent-able.
  • Combining Medications. Some pharmaceutical makers have been successful in extending the patent life of some medication by combining two drugs into one. At times, they have found the new combination to be more effective than the original drug. These fusing of two drugs is common and the newly formed drug gets a new patent to extend its life. One example of this is when Pfizer combined its patented drugs Norvasc and Lipitor into a new medication and had a patent issued for the new combination called "Caduet."
  • Rare Disease Drugs. The FDA offers a 7 year extension of patent life for drugs that treat rare diseases. The FDA defines rare disease as those affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. The FDA offers this extension to encourage drug companies to develop treatments for these diseases. Without extending the patent life, companies would be discouraged from spending their time and money to develop a medication that won't be used by many people, so to make up for that, the FDA gives them an additional 7 years of patent life.

Drug Patent Length vs Market Exclusivity

Now that we've covered the lengths of drug patents and how some manufacturers extend them, lets explore market exclusivity. If you're not part of the pharmaceutical industry, then you've probably never heard of market exclusivity, so lets explore what is market exclusivity for drugs?

Explaining the difference between patents and market exclusivity will help you understand market exclusivity.

By now, you should know that patents are granted by the USPTO and protect the chemical makeup and claims of a drug. Exclusivity is a right granted by the FDA once a drug is approved and this right grants the drug maker market exclusivity which blocks the approval of any generic drugs until the brand name manufacturers exclusivity clock runs out. Source

The FDA established market exclusivity to rewards new drug innovation and to curb generic drug makers from profiting off the success of those who contributed their time and money to develop a new drug.

Another major difference between patents and market exclusivity is that a drug patent can expire before the FDA approves a drug whereas market exclusivity is granted upon the approval of a drug by the FDA.

How Long Does a Patent Last?

This article dove deep into how long do patents last and how drug manufacturers increase the length of their patents. We also covered how long drug patents last in the U.S and other countries such as Canada, UK, and Australia. We also discussed the importance of drug patents as well as how drug manufacturers increase the life of their patents. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


Why are patents important?

Why Are Patents Important? (ANSWERED)

Getting a patent isn't easy and it's also expensive, so why do so many people patent their inventions and processes? This article will discuss the importance of patents, their benefits, their advantages and disadvantages, as well as the pros and cons of patents.

Patents are important for a variety of reasons that we will discuss below, but before we do that lets explain what is a patent? A patent is an exclusive right to use an invention or process that is granted by the Government to an inventor. Patents allow the inventor to exclude others from making, using, or selling their invention in the country where the patent was issued.

Patents are usually issued to actual persons and not to companies, but it's pretty common to find inventors assigning (transferring) their interest in their patent to their employer.

Patents typically protect inventions, products, processes, or designs that meet certain requirements of novelty and utility. Modernly, patents in the United States last for 20 years from the filing date of the patent. In the U.S, patent applications are filed at the USPTO (United States Patent & Trademark Office).

Why Are Patents Important? (Advantages of Patents)

Patents are important because they help protect your invention by giving you the exclusive right to stop others from copying, manufacturing, selling, or importing your invention without your permission.

Patents are beneficial in many other ways, here are a few more reasons why patenting your invention or process is important:

  • Protection. Patents give you the ability to protect your invention starting from the issue date of your patent. No one can manufacture, sell, or import your patented invention without first getting your consent to do so
  • Exclusivity. Patents allow you to use your patented invention or process and to profit from it exclusively on your own for 20 years from the date you filed for your patent
  • Priority. Being the first to patent an invention gives the patentee superior rights over subsequent patents. Therefore, if you're someone who's seeking capital for an idea, it's smart to patent your invention before disclosing the idea to potential investors and licensees to keep them from stealing your patent idea and patenting it before you even get a chance. If you're the first to patent the idea, you will be the sole owner of that patent
  • Profit. Patents allow you to license your patents for other to use for an agreed up royalty or fee. This is a huge advantage for people who wants to license or sell their patent rights to companies or individuals for a profit. Charging a royalty for the use of your patent (lets say 5%) can be a better options for inventors who do not have the resources and expenses to bring the idea or patented invention to market themselves
  • Innovation. Patents encourage innovation because people want to make money and what better way to do so than inventing something, protecting the invention, and later using it to earn some money. If people believe that their inventions would not be protected, they might not invent in the first place
  • Limit the Competition. Patenting your idea or design helps businesses limit competition. Just imagine yourself patenting an invention that is sold by both you can your competitor. By patenting the product, you will gain the right to ask your competitor to cease the production and sale of their competing product thereby garnering a larger market share by weeding out your competition
  • Investors. Having a patent or portfolio of patents is extremely valuable for small businesses especially when you consider that potential investors may invest in your company simply for the rights to use a particular patent or set of patents
  • Credibility. Having patents provides increased credibility to both the inventor and their company

Disadvantages of Patents (Cons of Patents)

Patents can be very beneficial, however here are some of the disadvantages and cons of applying for a patent:

  • Disclosing Information. By filing your patent application, you're making specific technical information about your patent publicly available. Keeping some details about your invention secret may be beneficial to stay ahead of your competitors because competitors may look for a way to invent around your patent
  • Time Consuming. Applying for and getting a patent is a very time consuming and lengthy process that often takes anywhere between 2 to 4 years for the government to grant/issue your patent. In our fast-paced world, waiting around for 4 years is a lot of time
  • Costly. It can be quite costly whether your patent is successful or not. You'll have to pay applications fees, searches for existing patents, and attorney's fees which contribute to quite the hefty bill. So even if your patent is unsuccessful, you could be left with bills that range from $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the complexity of your patent, the more complex the invention, the greater the cost
  • Complex. One of the arguments that we've heard time and time against is that the process of patenting an item is complex and usually requires the help of an attorney
  • Maintenance Fees. You need to pay periodic maintenance fees the last throughout the life of your patent. There are maintenance fees that must be paid three times throughout the life of your patent. If you fail to pay these fees, you might lose your rights and protections under US Patent law
  • Enforcement. Once you've filed your patent and your patent issues, you can't just sit back and expect the USPTO (Patent Office) to keep all those infringing upon your patent from selling your product, you're going to have proactively monitor the market, look for people infringing on your patent, and find an attorney who will deal with the person infringing upon your patent. Having an attorney take legal action against an infringer is an expensive process
  • Limited Protection. Patents are only good for the country in which they were issued. For example, if you received a patent for invention X in the U.S and someone in China copies your invention, you're out of luck because your patent is only good in the United States. If you have an invention that you want to protect worldwide, you'll have to patent your invention or idea in each country to gain patent protection
  • Lawsuits. If an inventor tries to patent his idea, competitors may file lawsuits in order to invalidate your patent, this is especially true if they believe that your patent can benefit them

All that we ask is that you weight the advantages and disadvantages of patents carefully before you decide that you want to patent your idea or invention. Making an informed decision will save you money, time, and heart ache in the long run.

Types of Patents

The two main types of patents that are issued by the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) are utility patents and design patents.

Type #1: Utility Patent

The U.S Code defines utility patents as "any news and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof." Basically what this means is that utility patents protect new machines, systems, and other useful inventions.

Utility patents are among the most valuable forms of intellectual property that a person can hold, but the problem is that they're costly. Depending on the complexity of your invention, patent cost can be huge for most people. Simple inventions can cost a few thousand dollars while more complex inventions can easily send the cost skyrocketing into the tends of thousands of dollars.

Utility Patent Summary
  • Protect how an invention operates or works
  • Lasts 20 years from the date you filed your patent
  • Covers thing like: a process, machine, manufacture, improvement of an existing invention
  • Most commonly issued patent by the USPTO (Approximately 90% of patents are utility patents)
  • Utility patents must serve a practical purpose or use

Type #2: Design Patent

According to the U.S Code, a design patent cover "any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture may obtain a patent therefore." This means that design patents protect the ornamental design of a functional item. This covers things like the design of jewelry, Coca Cola Bottle, furniture, and computer icons.

Having a design patent over an ornamental item gives the patentee (patent holder) the power to exclude others from using a design that is substantially similar to their patented design.

Design Patents Summary
  • Utility patents protect an item's visual aesthetic or look (something that's purely decorative)
  • The design must original to an ornament or product
  • Last up to 20 years from your patent filing date
  • They cannot be renewed once they expire
  • Design patents can be used if the design has been published or sold before the person or company applied for the patent

Pros and Cons of Patents

Inventors must weigh the pros and cons of patents before submitting a patent application. We listed the pros and cons of patenting your invention in this post in the paragraphs above. One of the biggest drawbacks of patenting your invention is the complex and costly patenting process. Many people who do not seek patents don't do so because they don't find support for those who are close to them, they can't afford the high costs of patenting in the U.S, or they don't fully understanding what a patent is.

Understanding the pros and cons of patenting your invention will help you make a more informed decision as to whether to patent your invention or not.

Alternatives to Patents

Some people do not wish to profit from their discoveries and inventions so instead of patenting their invention, some patentees (patent holders) either keep their invention secret or they simple publish it into the public domain.

Some seek to publish their patents because they want to contribute to society while others do it simply to avoid the fees associated with patenting their invention. Once an inventions is published, a subsequent inventor cannot patent the idea or invention any more because it's public and it's not new anymore.

The first obvious drawback of publicly publishing your invention is that you cannot patent it anymore. Also, once you've published it your competitors may patent improvements to your original patent, leaving you without a remedy.

So, if you're someone who does not want competitors to use his invention, publishing your patent is the wrong way to go about things, keeping it a secret is your safest bet. That said, if you keep your invention a secret, you risk competitors developing the same invention and patenting it before you do, so that's something just to keep in mind.

Are Patents Worth It?

Patents are worth it and are valuable for inventors who want to control how their invention is made, how it's used, and to prevent anyone else from profiting from their idea.

That said, there are some disadvantages associated with patenting your idea or invention and we've listed them above. Some of the drawbacks of patenting an invention include cost, time, and the enforcement that comes along with your patent.

Without having a patent, you won't have ownership or control over your invention. This means that you won't be able to sell or license your intellectual property to anyone because you don't have exclusive rights to it. Also, anyone who hears about your idea can imitate it and not having a patent over it makes things much easier.

Why Are Patents Important Conclusion

Patents are important for the variety of reasons that we mentioned throughout this article. We hope this article covered the advantages and disadvantages of patents as well as their pros and cons effectively. If you have any questions or comments about patents and their important, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


How long do patents in the us last?

How Long Do Patents Last?

The amount of time that patents last in the United States has changed a few times over the course of our history. The U.S Constitution provides that inventors should have their inventions and discoveries protected "for limited times," however it doesn't give us an exact number of years. This article will introduce you to the different types of patents out there as well as the length of time that each type of patent lasts. We will cover how long utility patents last as well as design patents.

The first patents in the U.S lasted 14 years from the date that the patent office issued the patent and this was based on the patent term in England. In 1861 the Government increased the patent term from 14 years to 17 years by signing into law the Patent Act of 1861.

U.S Patent law underwent major changes that became effective on or after June 8, 1995. The changes that were made to the U.S patent system made it on par with the patent systems of other countries.

How Long Does a Patent Last?

If you were wondering: how long do patents last for? Patents that were filed on or after June 8, 1995, expire 20 years after the U.S filing date of your patent. For any patents that were in force on June 8, 1995 or for patent applications pending on that date, the patent will expire either 20 years from the filing date or 17 years after the patent was issued, whichever is later.

If you've ever asked an attorney "how long do patents last?" They will often answer by speaking in shorthand of the 20 year patent term, however this isn't entirely correct. The term of a patent (Enforcability of a Patent) does not start until the patent is issued (i.e., the "issue date" of the patent) by the USPTO.

Just remember that patents get their power from a statute, so if you have a patent application that is still pending, you cannot sue anyone for patent infringement until the USPTO issues your patent because until the issue date, there is no patent in existence to even enforce.

What is a Patent?

Patents are granted by the U.S Government and they give the patent holder the exclusive right to use a certain invention, useful process, machine, consumer article, or an improvement on such items. Source

If the USPTO grants a patent, the patent holder (known as a patentee) has the legal right to exclude others from using their inventions in the United States.

Patenting a certain process or invention does not require the patent holder to commercialize their own invention, it simply allows them to restrict others from making, using, or selling their invention.

Patent holders will be able to restrict others from using or selling their patents as long as the patent holders pays the maintenance fees to the USPTO. So long as the fees are paid, the patent protection will remain in effect until the patent term ends. Once a patent expires, it becomes in the public domain, meaning that anyone can use the patent and profit from its use without the patent owner's permission.

When do Patents Expire?

Patents expire 20 years from the earliest effective U.S filing date (date that you first filed the patent). So the amount of time that your patent is pending in the USPTO (U.S Patent & Trademark Office) is subtracted from from the the 20 years that you can enforce your patent for.

Here is a quick example of when patents expire. John files his patent on January 1, 2000 and the patent is pending and is not issued until January 1, 2002.

  • John's patent was pending for 2 years
  • During the 2 years while the patent was pending, John could not have enforced his patent by suing anyone for patent infringement because there is no patent yet in existence to base the lawsuit on
  • John's patent will expire 20 years from the January 1st filing date
  • The application pendency period from January 1st, 2000 to January 1st, 2002 (2 years) is subtracted from 20 year patent term. So, the patent term is in reality 18 years
  • Once the patent is issued, the patent holder can enforce his patent by suing anyone who infringes upon his patent

We hope this section was able to answer how long patent protections lasts.

Types of Patents | Know Your Patent

U.S Law provides protection for different kinds of patents. Different types of patents have different durations. Approximately 90% of patents in the United States are utility patents. Utility patents last for 20 years from the earliest filing date. Design patents, on the other hand, are only valid for 15 years from the date the USPTO issues or grants the patent.

Utility patents protect inventions, processes, and machines. Utility patents are the most common type of patent issued by the patent office, accounting for more than 90% of all filed for patents.

Utility patents typically claim and describe the functional aspects of an invention. They protect a variety of inventions that include consumer products, machinery, industrial parts, toys, and pharmaceutical drugs.

What is a Provisional Patent Application & How Does it Affect the Patent Term?

Some inventors choose to file provisional patent applications to get the earliest possible priority date for their invention. So, why do inventors rush to file provisional patent applications? They do so because the first to file a patent for an invention is able to claim invention priority. However, remember that provision patents only protect the date of an invention because they are not examined for patentability and do not become a patent unless the person seeking the patent files for a non-provisional patent within 12 months.

If you filed a provisional patent application before filing your utility patent application, your patent term starts on the earliest filing date, which is the date of your provisional patent application. So, you might be asking yourself what is a provisional patent application? Provisional patent applications are a cheaper way for an inventor to lock in a priority date prior to filing a regular, non-provisional patent application.

That said, provisional patent applications do not become patents. For a provisional patent application to become a patent, the inventors will have to file a nonprovisional patent application within 12 months of filing the provisional patent application with the patent office.

Some people use provisional patent applications because it gives them an extra year to perfect their invention, run experiments, find investors, or to perfect their prototype.

That said, this extra year comes at a cost because the patent term starts on your earliest filing date and by filing your provisional patent application, your patent term starts when you file your provisional application with the USPTO. So, if you're calculating how long your patent lasts, be sure that you're calculating from the correct filing date.

If you are looking to file a provisional patent, here is the provisional patent application form, you can find it here.

What Does Patent Pending Mean? | The Effect of Having a Patent Pending

Patent Pending is a legal designation that's given to inventions or processes once a patent application for the invention or process has been filed. The patent pending status remains until patent is issued or abandoned.

Having a patent pending comes with a short patent life. Your patent term starts from the earliest filing date, so it will go for 20 years from the date you file your provisional patent application or from the filing date of your patent, whichever is earlier. You first filing date is also known as your priority date.

If you've already filed your patent, just remember that you won't be able to enforce your patent until the patent offices issues you a patent for your invention.

If the patent office delays your patent for too long, you may be eligible to file a patent term extension to extend the patent term of your patent. Just note that to be eligible for such an extension, the patent office must be at fault for causing a substantial delay in processing your patent.

Quick Summary of Patent Terms by Patent Type

  • Utility Patents filed on or after June 8th, 1995 last for 20 years from the application filing date
  • Utility Patents filed before June 8th, 1995 last 17 years from the issue date or 20 years from the application filing date (whichever is longer)
  • Design Patents last 20 years from the application filing date
  • Plant Patents last 20 years from the application filing date
  • Design Patents filed on or after May 13, 2015 last 15 years from the date the patent is issued/granted

Patent Term Extensions

The USPTO is experiencing a major backlog of pending patent applications. As a result of this backlog, the patent office is adjusting the patent term for periods longer than 20 years. What does this mean for you? If you've filed a patent and your patent took too long to issue, the patent office may grant you an extension to compensate for the time lost between when you filed your patent application and when it was actually issued.

Keep Your Invention Confidential

Many people in the United States are still interested in inventing new things. Many entrepreneurs want to invent something and make tons of money from their invention. The U.S patent system offers them protection that can increase the market value of their patented invention.

That said, be careful with whom you share your invention because there are a lot of start-ups and people who prey on entrepreneurs who have novel inventions that may be worth a lot of money. So, if you're an inventor you are within your rights to be as cautious as possible when looking for a company to prototype or manufacture your invention. The last thing you want is someone copying your idea and selling it before you can even bring it to market.

There are a lot of inventors who acquire patents and despise the idea of taking their invention or prototype a shady invention factory they found on the web. Many "Invention Development" companies are either scams on aggressive marketers that try to get you to pay them upfront for their services and to give them a huge share of your sales. Be aware of such companies and scams. The best thing you can do is look for a reputable attorney who is well-suited to help you market your patent. The USPTO has a resource page dedicated to helping you avoid the most common invention promotion scams. Source

If you have invention that is unique and has commercial viability, contact a patent attorney who can evaluate your invention and protect your rights.

Patent Length Criticisms

We have heard many people who are not familiar with the U.S Patent System criticize patents as lasting too long. We disagree with system and we'll tell you why. When everything is considered, patents only last for a few fleeting moment.

Many lawyers throw out the phrase that patents last for 20 years and while that is partially true, there is a lot of time lost from the moment you file your patent application to the time when the patent is actually issued. In some cases, patents take several years to issue, so in reality you're getting less than 20 years of protection. This is so because you don't get exclusive rights in your patent until its issued. For example, TiVos patent was issued after more than 10 years passed after its filing. We are not saying that every patent will experience this length of delay, just keep in mind that patent holders lose a portion of their patent term while they're waiting for their patent to issue.

Not only do patents not last long enough, if you have a utility patent and you miss a maintenance payment, you could lose your patent and it will become part of the public domain where anyone can use it and make money from it. Here are some of the payment that you must make to ensure that your patent is good for its entire patent term:

  • First Maintenance Payment - Fee/$1,600 - Small Entity/$800 - Micro Entity/$400
  • Second Maintenance Payment - Fee/$3,600 - Small Entity/$1,800 - Micro Entity/$900
  • Third Maintenance Payment - Fee/$7,400 - Small Entity/$3,700 - Micro Entity/$1,850

Source

Patent Length Conclusion

We hope you found this article on patent length helpful. We covered how long the different types of patents last. We covered how long do utility patents last as well as how long do design patents last. We briefly touched on plant patent lengths. If you have any questions about how long do patents last, please feel free to leave it in the comments section below and we will do our best to answer your patent length related question.