The USPTO is an agency in the US Deprtament of Commerce that grants patents to inventors and businesses as well as trademark registrations for product and intellectual property identification. They cooperate with the European Patent Office (EPO) and Japan Patent Office (JPO) as members of the Trilateral Patent Offices.
A patent is a right that is granted to an inventor by the federal government. The rights associated with a patent include the exclusion of others making, selling or using that invention for a specific period of time. Patents can be made for three different types; utility patents, design patents and plant patents. Utility patents are by far the most common patent applications that are filed.
Patent applications are reviewed by patent offices. Usually governmental bodies, they have the power to accept or reject any patent application in their jurisdiction. Decisions are made based upon the successful adherence to each patent office’s patentability requirements. There are many international patent offices, but the most commonly used is the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), followed by the European Patent Organization (EPO).
Primary Patent Offices
The EPO is an intergovernmental organization setup through the European Patent Convention (EPC). It grants patents to inventors and businesses as well as trademark registrations for product and IP identification. They cooperate with the USPTO and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) as members of the Trilateral Patent Offices.
JPO is a Japanese governmental agency that oversees IP rights through the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. As one of the world’s largest patent offices, they are a member of the Trilateral Patent Offices & cooperate with the USPTO and EPO.
SIPO is the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China, also known as the Chinese Patent Office. This office is responsible for the comprehensive coordination of Chinese and foreign-related affairs in the field of intellectual property.
WIPO is one of 17 specialized United Nations agencies who protect IP throughout the world. It includes nearly 200 members, oversees 26 international treaties. They administer the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Madrid System, and the Hague System.
Regional Patent Offices
There are over 200 additional intellectual property offices that include the following regional offices; African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP), Eurasian Patent Organization (EAPO), International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), Interstate Council on the Protection of Industrial Property (ICPIP), Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) (OHIM), and Patent Office of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC).
These regional patent offices, along with other national agencies and WIPO, help inventors by streamlining the intellectual property application filing process across international jurisdictions. This happens under the PCT — administered by WIPO to make it easier and cheaper to file the patent application across a large number of countries. The PCT covers nationals and residents of any of the member countries who want to file in one language and by paying only one set of fees.
Patent Filing Process & Expectations
Because the USPTO is the most commonly used patent office, the material below outlines their 8-step process for patent application and maintenance needs. Other patent offices will have different procedures and rules associated with their specific jurisdictions. These 8 steps can be incredibly daunting for someone who lacks the specific technology or more general intellectual property industry experience to quickly navigate through the patent application process. Here is a simplified version of the USPTO process:
- Step 1: Determine the type of Intellectual Property protection that you need.
- Step 2: Determine if your invention is patentable.
- Step 3: What kind of patent do you need?
- Step 4: Get ready to apply.
- Step 5: Prepare and submit your initial application.
- Step 6: Work with your examiner.
- Step 7: Receive your approval.
- Step 8: Maintain your patent.
As most IP experts already know, each one of these steps can take a tremendous amount of time if you are not savvy with the patent prosecution process. However, at GHB Intellect, our intellectual property experts can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to get through the patent application process — because we do it all the time! Also, when you know what to expect during the approval process, you can save a significant amount of time by reducing the chances of rejections to a much lower likelihood. Also, our experts understand the proper approach to negotiating the terms of the patent with the examiners.
Types of Patent Applications We Help With
A patent that covers the creation of a new or improved – and useful – product, process or machine.
A design patent protects the ornamental design of a functional item – as opposed to how it is used & works.
A plant patent is granted for the invention of an asexually reproduced, distinct and new variety of plant.
A provisional application is a legal document filed that establishes an early filing date for the patent application.
Sections of a Patent Application
There are only a few sections in a patent application; the title, abstract, specification(body), figures, and claims. Although the sections may sound simple to construct, experience says otherwise. For example, the most simple of the sections is the title section. But, the title alone has many requirements that include a 500 character limit, hence maintaining the shortest and most descriptive text possible for a given invention. The patent title must use only characters that can be recorded by the USPTO’s automated information systems and it should appear as a heading on the first page of the specification section (unless supplied in an application data sheet).
Terms like “new,” “improved,” or similar are not considered part of the title of an invention. These words will subsequently be removed as the title is entered into computer records. Additionally, words like “a,” “an,” and “the” should never be used as the first words of a patent title. Any mistakes in this process will trigger a change in title and can significantly delay the application. The steps get considerably more complex as you go into the more content-rich sections and sub-categories of the application. If you are interested in reading about some of the most common mistakes made when filling out a patent application, please read about our patent drafting services or reach out directly to get help with the process from our team.
What are the Different Steps to Getting a Patent
There are separate steps that may be required for achieving a patent that depend on unique situations. The team at GHB Intellect is well-adept at providing services that include; patent search, patent drafting, patent application, patent prosecution, and patent portfolio analysis. We have the ability to provide insight at any stage of the application process–including during a provisional patent application. Provisional patent applications are usually the first step to being granted a patent. It is an expedited process that does not require a formal patent claim, declaration or disclosure statement prior to filing. It is used as more of a placeholder while we complete the detailed version of the patent application.