If you’ve invented something new, you’re probably wondering how long it’s going to take to patent your invention. The amount of time that it takes to get your patent from the USPTO depends on a variety of factors that we will discuss in this article. We know that you want to get your patent approved as quickly as possible, so we will answer how long it currently takes to get a patent on your invention.

Protecting your intellectual property by patenting your invention or process is one of the most important things that you can do if you want to profit from your invention. Once the USPTO grants your patent application, you will be able to restrict others from making, selling, or importing your invention to the United States.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Patent?

The USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) has a tool that shows how long it can take to get a patent. According to the USPTO, it takes approximately 24 months to get a patent in 2019. The time it takes to get your patent approved depends on the complexity of your invention and the number of pending applications. The more complex your invention, the longer it will take to get your application approved.

Why Are Patents Important?

Patents are important because they give you control over your invention. By patenting your invention, you will be able select who makes, uses, sells, or imports your invention to the United States.

In addition to control, you will be able to exclusively use your patented invention for 20 years from your filing date.

Also, by patenting your invention, you will have superior rights over subsequent people who are seeking to patent an invention that’s similar to yours.

Once your patent is granted by the USPTO, you will be able to sell or license your patent to third parties. Licensing your patent can be a great way to profit from your invention without having to spend your time and resources bringing the invention to market.

Time it Takes to Get a Patent

The time it takes to get a patent depends on the following factors, just remember the time it takes varies from one application to another, but here’s what you should expect:

1) Time it Takes to Perform a Preliminary Inquiry (1 to 7 days)

Before filing your patent application, attorneys typically make a cursory inspection at whether (A) your invention has patentable subject matter, (B) your invention is useful or serves some purpose, (C) your invention is new, (D) your invention is nonobvious.

2) Time it Takes to Perform a Patent Search (1 Week to 4 Weeks)

Once your attorney determines that your invention is worthy of further investigation, they will usually perform an in-depth search, looking for patents that are the same as or similar to yours. Attorneys perform this search to ensure that your patent will not infringe upon the patents of others.

The time it takes to perform a patent search depends on the complexity of your invention, as well as the number of claims you’re making in your patent application. The more claims, the more research that needs to be done.

Also, the time it takes to perform a search depends on your attorney’s workload and the amount of information that you’ve provided to your attorney. The more organized the information, the less work your attorney will have to do.

3) Time it Takes to Draft Your Patent Application (1 Week to 4 Weeks)

Once you or your attorney has completed the patent search and the search did not turn up inventions that are the same or similar to yours, it’s time to start drafting your patent application. Typically, an attorney will spend 1 week to 4 weeks drafting your patent application.

The time it takes to draft the application depends on the type of patent you’re applying for, the information you’ve supplied to your attorney, the complexity of your invention, and the changes you make to your application.

If you completed your patent application by yourself, you should contact an attorney who can look over it to make sure that you’ve complied with all of the requirements set forth by the USPTO. If you don’t have the money to have a lawyer look over your application, review it and make sure everything is properly filled out because the patent examiner will not hesitate to reject your application for seemingly minor errors.

Once you’ve filed your provisional or non-provisional patent application, you will immediately be able to market your invention or product as “patent pending.”

4) Time it Takes your Patent From the Filing Stage to Acceptance (12 months to 24 months)

The type of patent application (provisional or non-provisional) will affect how long it takes the USPTO to accept your application. If you filed a provisional patent application, your application will not be examined by a patent examiner, instead you will have 12 months to file your non-provisional patent application. During the 12 months, you will be able to advertise your product or invention as “patent pending.”

If you filed a (regular) non-provisional patent application, the average wait time according to the USPTO is 17 months for your first office action and 24 months to get your patent. The time it takes the USPTO to examine and grant or reject your patent application depends on many of the factors we will list below.

Factors Affecting How Long it Takes to Get Your Patent After Filing

After filing your patent application, the length of time it takes for the USPTO to grant your patent varies significantly. The USPTO groups patent application based on the invention’s art unit (technology group). Some technology groups have longer or shorter wait times than others.

Some technology groups tend to have more patent applications in queue than other technology groups and the patent applications that are assigned to the technology units with more patent applications will wait longer to have a patent examiner exam the application and ultimately issue the patent.

If you file a provisional patent application instead of the regular utility patent application, the USPTO will not place your application in the examination queue.

While provisional patent applications are not examined, they do not mature into patents. To get a patent, you’ll have to file a non-provisional patent application within 12 months of filing your provisional application. For example, if you filed your provisional application on January 10, 2019, you will have to file your non-provisional application by January 10, 2020.

If you filed a non-provisional patent application within 12 months of filing your provisional application, you will have to add 12 months to the wait times we mentioned above, so instead of your patent application taking 24 months, it will take 36 months from the date you first filed your provisional patent application.

How Much Time Does it Take to Get a Patent Through Track One?

The USPTO offers priority examination known as Track One. Only utility patents and plant patents are eligible for this prioritized service. If you opt for track one service, the USPTO will do it’s best to give you either a final rejection or approval within 12 months.

That said, the USPTO claims that it is currently able to provide a final decision in some circumstances within only 6 months of filing your non-provisional patent application and being accepted to One Track.

Although skipping the line to get your invention prioritized sounds like a great idea, it comes at a large cost. Track One costs anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 in addition to the regular filing fees charged by the USPTO.

To get your patent processed more quickly, you’ll need to fill out a Track One request form, using the EFS Web Filing Tool. Remember that getting accepted into the Track One program is not automatic and the spaces are limited to 10,000 applications per year.

It’s important to note that One Track does have some restrictions:

  • You cannot make more than 4 independent claims to be eligible for One Track

  • You’re not eligible for One Track if your application make multiple dependent claim

  • You cannot make more than 30 claims

  • Track One is limited to 10,000 applicants per fiscal year

Currently, to get a patent using one track, you will have to wait approximately 2.5 months to get your first office action and 6.5 months to get a final ruling either rejecting or granting your patent application.

Always remember that your application may take a long or shorter time depending on your unique case.

Patent Pending Before you Get Your Patent

Once you’ve filed your patent application but before it’s approved, you will have patent pending status. While your waiting for the USPTO to hopefully approve your application, you can use, make, sell, and license your product or invention. But remember, at this point the USPTO has not granted you a patent, so you cannot restrict others from using, making, or selling an invention that’s the same or similar to yours. Once your application is granted, you can take legal action against anyone who infringes upon your patent.

What Happens if Your Patent is Rejected?

If the USPTO rejects your patent application, you’re not completely out of luck. You can respond by explaining to the examiner why they are wrong. Usually, the examiner will cite references which are typically others patents and explain why your invention is not new or doesn’t meet a certain requirement.

You will have an opportunity to respond to the patent examiner by fixing the claims, amending the claims, or you can try arguing to persuade the examiner that you are correct and they are mistaken.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Long it Takes to Get a Patent

1) Why is it Taking so Long to Get my Patent?

Your patent is taking long because at any given moment, the USPTO has a backlog of hundreds of thousands of pending patent application. As of June 2019, the patent office has 553,756 pending patent application and only 8,174 patent examiners to examine the applications. Patent examiners have an enormous workload that they have to cope with.

That said, some technology fields, such as software patents take even longer because of the lack of examiners who are experienced in the area. Additionally, many applicants go back and forth negotiating with the patent examiner, this adds to the considerably long wait times.

2) What Can I Do to Get my Patent More Quickly?

In some limited cases, the USPTO may look at several factors when determining whether to speed up the process:

  • The invention’s importance to society

  • Applicant’s health

  • Applicant’s age

3) Does Contacting the USPTO Help Speed Up Getting My Patent?

Contacting the patent office is not likely to speed up your patent, but it will tell the patent office that you’re not abandoning your patent application. Also, by contacting them you’ll know what’s being done to your application, enabling you to more quickly fix issues that arise.

4) How Many Patent Application are Filed Per Year?

According to statistics from the USPTO, 629,647 are filed annually. From the 629,647 that are filed 325,979 are granted each year, meaning that 52% of filed patent applications are granted.

Broad Patent Claims Affect How Long it Takes to Get a Patent

While obtaining broader protection is a great thing, the more broad your application, the longer it’s going to take to process your patent application. If you draft your you application too broadly, the patent examiner may disagree about whether it meets the patentability requirements set forth by the law.

As a result, you or your attorney may have to contact the patent examiner to explain to them why you deserve a patent. In some circumstances, you might even have to file and appeal to the USPTO Appeal Board to get your patent approved for your broadly drafted claims.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Patent Approved

Like we mentioned earlier, to get a patent you will likely wait 24 months for a straightforward invention. The time you will wait to get your patent depends on a variety of factors that we previously covered in this article. If you have any general questions or comments about how long it takes the USPTO to grant your patent application, please drop them in the comments section below.