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How Long Does It Take To Get A Patent?

The Short Answer:

The average pendency of a patent application is 2 to 3 years.

The not-quite-as-short-answer:

Inventors are often surprised to learn that the average pendency of a patent application is between 2 and 3 years! Pendency, in patent law, refers to the length of time between when a patent application is submitted to the Patent Office and when it either issues as a patent or becomes abandoned. I implore you not be turned away by that statistic. Patents can be extremely valuable assets.  Although it may take several years to receive a patent on your invention, a patent is at its peak value somewhere around it’s 8th year in existence. This is specially true in the software realm.

“An issued patent can increase your changes of getting funding!”

Moreover, the average pendency of a patent application is heavily dependent on the technology field of the invention. For example, mechanical patent applications have a much shorter pendency than software patents, on average. This is the case because a mechanical invention has a physical structure that can be visually identified and contrasted against another mechanical invention. In contrast, convincing the Patent Office that one software component has a different functionality than a similar software component in an already existing patent can require several communications between the Patent Office and the lawyer.

Another cause of the delay is the large backlog of patent applications at the Patent Office. Once filed, the Patent Office will not look at your patent application for about a year and a half. Inside the Patent Office there is back-log of over 500,000 patent applications that are waiting to be reviewed. After the Patent Office has reviewed your patent application, they will issue an Office action. Your representative will have 3-6 months to respond to that Office action. This back and forth negotiation is called “patent prosecution” may go several rounds before resulting in a patent for the inventor or before going abandoned.

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