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  • Writer's pictureCassandra L. Wilkinson

Now That Your Patent Application is Filed, How Long Until You Are Granted A Patent?

Applicants and inventors work so diligently to put together the material and components of a patent application, that I often find it discouraging to explain the prosecution process after filing the application, because the only thing left to do is….wait; sit and wait and hope for a first action allowance or an Ex Parte Quayle action (in other words, notice from the Examiner that you are being granted your patent without any changes or with only minor modifications, of which we see very few).
After spending several thousand dollars on preparation of a patent application and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) filing fees, the question of “how long will it take” is at the top of all applicants’ list. The best and most reliable answer is to look at the USPTO Patent Dashboard website to look at the most relevant and recent average estimations.
Once the patent application has been filed, is pending, and has a Patent Application Serial Number, the time period following is called prosecution. Prosecution is where the application waits to be assigned to a Group Art Unit and an Examiner for review, along with the time the application is before the Examiner. The graph below shows that as of August 2015, it can take an average 17.5 months after the filing date to have a first action or correspondence from the USPTO regarding the application.
Once the patent application is in the prosecution stage, the review process, including possibly several Office Actions and Amendments, can take on average 26.7 months until the patent is granted, as can be seen below.
The basic steps of patent prosecution are:
1. The patent application is prepared by an attorney, including all formal documents necessary for filing, and/or formal drawings prepared by a draftsman if necessary.
2. Once the application is filed, the USPTO will do an initial review of the documents in the file wrapper and notify the correspondent if any initial corrections need to be made or any deficiencies corrected. If all the documents are in order, the official filing receipt is issued and transmitted to the correspondent.
3. The application will be assigned to an Art Unit that relates to the class of the application, and will subsequently be assigned to an Examiner for further examination and prosecution. During the examination, the Examiner will most likely issue an Office Action objecting to the content of the application and how the invention is claimed. The Applicant has a period of time in which to respond to the Office Action by filing an Amendment, which is then reviewed and taken into consideration by the Examiner. The Applicant also has the choice not to respond to the Office Action; however, the choice not to respond will lead to abandonment of the Application.
4. The Examiner can then either allow the application to proceed and grant patented status, or could further reject the amendments made in the response to the Office Action and issue a second Office Action, which will then start over the response and preparation of an Amendment time-table.
All of the steps above will vary in length of time, but in general take many months to complete independently, which therefore makes up the average total duration of the patenting process.
Just as an example of this lengthy process, Steve Jobs, who has been gone from us for almost four years now, was finally awarded a patent in August 2015 for a HIGHLY PORTABLE MEDIA DEVICE, or, as better known, the original iPod Shuffle, which was first introduced for sale to the public in 2005.
While it is exciting to have a patent application filed and pending, it is important to keep in mind that the process takes many months, and usually years, from start to finish, so don’t be in too much of a hurry.
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