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The Patenting Process

  • Anticipated Chronology of Patent Procurement
  • Definitions, Explanations, and Descriptions of Each Event
  • Client Action and Cost
  • Invention*


  • During this time, ideally an inventor should keep the invention a secret. If disclosure is necessary, confidentiality agreements (non-disclosure agreements) should be used. Non-confidential disclosures, public uses, sales, and offers for sale trigger a one year statutory deadline for filing a U.S. patent application, and immediately make it impossible to obtain protection in most foreign countries. Continue development of the invention. Remain diligent until invention is complete.
  • Patentability Search Time: two-six weeks
  • A patentability search is optional. A search determines if prior art exists that would render the invention unpatentable. Prior art is anything the previously incorporated all or part of the invention. For many reasons, no search can locate all relevant prior art that may affect the patentability of the invention. Accordingly, not al relevant art may be found.
  • Provide a disclosure* for searching purposes. Cost: $1,400 minimum (for mechanical inventions).
  • Patent Application Preparation Time: one-three months
  • At this point a complete disclosure* from the inventor is needed. Additions and changes to this disclosure can significantly add to the original estimate of the anticipated costs of preparing and filing the patent application.
  • Provide a disclosure.* Cost: depends on the complexity of the invention, however the minimum preparation fee is $4,500. A deposit of half the anticipated cost is required.

A disclosure may include any combination of the following:

  • written description;
  • drawings or working model;
  • known prior art (from search or otherwise);
  • list of advantages and description of special results;
  • list of problems solved by invention
  • alternative embodiments; and
  • vendor information and part numbers.

This is a summary of the patenting process and does not include events that may complicate the process. This information is being provided for information purposes only. Provision of this information does not create an attorney/client relationship between the recipient and Chernoff, Vilhauer, McClung & Stenzel.

Approximate costs, including our services, as of January. PTO fees increase annually.

  • Review of Patent Application Draft

  • From the disclosure provided by the inventor the patent attorney will prepare a draft of the patent application and drawings

  • Review application and figures carefully to determine if best version of invention is described completely and accurately

  • Filing Date

  • Date the patent application is mailed to the Patent and Trademark office (PTO). This is the date from which the term of a patent is measured under current patent law.

  • Sign formal papers and pay balance of application preparation fee.

  • Post Card

    Time: 2-6 Weeks from filing

  • Confirms filing date (informal) and assigns serial number of patent application.

  • At this point the product may safely be marked "Patent Pending".

  • Filing Receipt

    Time: 2-4 months from filing

  • Confirms filing date (formal). Usually indicates grant of foreign filing license. Foreign filing has special requirements for each country, and therefore an invention which is patentable in the United States may not necessarily be patentable in foreign countries. The prices are based on a 15-page application. Add $100 for each additional page of translations.

  • File in foreign countries up to one year after U.S. filing date.

    Cost: varies significantly by country. Examples:

    • Europe: $8,500-$11,500
    • Japan: $7,000-$9,000
    • Canada: $1,850-$2,100
    • PCT: $4,200-$1,300
  • Office Action #1

    Time: 6-18 months from filing

  • An Examiner at the PTO examines the application, cites similar prior art references, and notes any other "problems" with the original application. Each patent claim is objected to, rejected, or allowed. We will provide an analysis and recommendation as to how to respond to the office action. There are three months to respond without incurring late fees.

  • Review office action and respond to our analysis letter.

    Cost: $500-$3,500 (depending on the complexity of the Office Action). Note: if patentability is argued there is a $2,000 minimum.

  • Additional Office Actions or Final Rejection

    Time: 1-3 years from filing

  • Additional office actions similar to office action #1 may occur. If a "final rejection" is made, a significant decision must be made as to whether to file a continuation or appeal.

  • Cost: varies

  • Allowance

    Time: 1-3 years from filing

  • Notice of Allowance and Issue Fee Due. The fees tend to go up every year

  • Cost: small entities $885

    large entities $1,545

  • Patent Issues

    Time: 3-4 months after issue fee is paid

  • Receive final patent. Damages for infringement may be collected from this day until expiration

  • Product should be marked "U.S. Patent No. _____".

  • Maintenance Fees

    Time: approximately every four years after issue

  • Pay fees to prevent patent from lapsing or becoming abandoned. The fees tend to go up every year

    1. small - $750
      large - $1,275
    2. small - $1,275
      large - $2,325
    3. small - $1,805
      large - $3,385

  • Expiration

    Time: 20 years after filing

  • Patent expires. Others may use the technology.

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