The first step is evaluating the patentability of your invention with your patent counsel, after which your patent application will be drafted. This can usually be completed within two months. Your application is then filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
When your application is filed, it is put in a queue to be examined by a patent examiner at the USPTO. The USPTO’s current backlog is substantial. The average wait time for an initial review and examination (the “first office action”) is approximately two years. Each office action requires a response, and applications receive, on average, 2-3 office actions. A reasonable time frame for obtaining a patent if everything goes smoothly is approximately 3 years.
Some applications require more office actions. In the event that an application requires further prosecution, some applicants must file a Request for Continuing Examination, a Continuing Application, or appeal an examiner’s decision to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences. These circumstances add significant time to the process of obtaining a patent, in some cases extending it to 4 years, 5 years, or more.
Several different programs exist that can accelerate the examination process. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, which we can explain to you in detail.
With our extensive experience and up-to-date knowledge on USPTO pendencies, we can give you a clear outline of an expected time frame for successfully prosecuting your patent application.