Welcome! This is the roadmap to our “Start Here” page. Below are several discrete questions and answers to topics that inventors often want to learn more about. Most of the answers include a link to a related article that discusses that topic in more detail. Each of those articles can be found in the “Start Here” page. Enjoy!


What is a Patent?

A patent is a grant of a property right in an invention, issued by the United States Government, conferring the right to exclude others from making, selling, or using an invention. A utility patent is granted to someone who invents, discovers, or improves any new or useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter.


What Is Patent Prosecution?

Patent prosecution includes drafting, filing, and negotiating with the Patent Office for the grant of a patent. During patent prosecution, the client’s representative is almost always required to submit persuasive arguments as to why the client’s invention is a new invention or an improvement on an existing invention. It is not uncommon for the client’s representative to be required to respond to several communications by the Patent Office with persuasive aguements to that end. If, at any time, the Examiner believes the patent application is allowable, he will issue a notice of allowance. A notice of allowance or abandonment of the application closes patent prosecution.


What Are The Parts Of A Patent?

A patents include an abstract, a summary, a background section, drawings, a detailed description, and a set of claims. Arguably, the parts of the patent that the inventor should be concerned about are the detailed description, the figures, and the set of claims. The drawings are a visual description of the different ways your invention could be implemented. The detailed description describes each of these different implementations in detail. Lastly, the set of claims describe the legal boundaries of the invention.


If I File A Patent Application, What Are My Chances Of Getting A Patent?

The allowance rate for all patent applications filed with the Patent Office is approximately 70%. However, it varies significantly depending on what type of technology makes up the subject matter of the patent application. For a more in depth discussion on the current allowance rate at the Patent Office and ways to improve your chances of getting a patent issued, please refer to this page.


Do I Need To Hire A Patent Attorney?

While there are inventors who successfully draft and prosecute patent applications for their personal inventions, PatentDirection strongly recommends hiring a licensed patent attorney or patent agent to help you acquire a quality patent.


What Will My Interaction With A Patent Attorney Be Like?

Once you have found and contacted a lawyer that you would like to work with, the lawyer will set up a preliminary interview with you. The purpose of this interview is to discuss the detail of the lawyer’s representation. You will likely discuss the attorney’s fees, the scope of representation, both parties schedules, etc. However, this is not a time to discuss your invention in detail. In fact, the lawyer should request that you do not discuss the specifics of your invention at this meeting. If you were to do so, an attorney/client relationship could form before both parties have agreed that the lawyer should represent the inventor.

After the preliminary interview with the lawyer, there will be an invention disclosure meeting. During this meeting, the client and lawyer will discuss the specifics of the invention. If you have any written documentation regarding the invention, this is a good time to send that information to the lawyer.

Once the invention disclosure meeting has concluded, the lawyer can get to work drafting the patent application. Drafting a patent application can take anywhere from a few days to a month or more depending on the complexity of the invention, the lawyer’s workload, and any delay by the inventor in responding to questions that the lawyer might have. After the lawyer has finished drafting the patent application and the inventor has had an opportunity to review the patent application, It’s fairly common for there to be a few revisions. When both the lawyer and the client are satisfied with the patent application, the lawyer will go ahead and file your patent application.


How Do I Find A Patent Attorney?

Unfortunately, there is no best practice for finding a patent attorney or patent agent that will fit your needs. The worst way you can go about finding a patent attorney is a recommendation from a friend who says, “I know a great attorney that helped me with a real estate transaction, maybe she can help you.” Patent attorneys generally have very specific practices and are almost never full service attorneys. In fact, an attorney is required to take an additional bar exam, the patent bar, to be qualified to practice patent prosecution. It’s very unlikely that the attorney who helped your friend with a real estate transaction is also a patent attorney.

There are services out there that can help you find a patent attorney that fits your needs. Lawyers.com is one of those services. Alternatively, you can google search patent attorneys in your area. Each patent attorney should have a small biography on their website that advertises their technological experience. Find a patent attorney that has experience in technology sector that your invention belongs in.


How Much Does It Cost To Get A Patent?

A mid-sized to large law firm will charge in the vicinity of $9,000 – $15,000+ to draft and file most patent applications. Inventions in non-software based fields, such as some mechanical based inventions can be slightly cheaper or much cheaper depending on the complexity of the invention. Software related patent applications will cost near the top of that range. Moreover, the attorney will charge you an additional fee, based on his hourly rate, for each Office communication that he is required to respond to during prosecution. For more information on the costs associated with filing a patent application, please view this page.


Could I Get My Patent Prepared For Free?

Possibly. There are organizations that provide free legal services for low income individuals. We’ve compiled a list of organizations that we are familiar with which provide free patent services to low income individuals. For that list please visit this page. 


What Happens After I File A Patent?

After an Applicant has filed a patent application, the Patent Office will examine the patent application and issue an Office communication. This Office communication begins a series of back and forth persuasive arguments between the Applicant and the Examiner. The purpose of this back and forth negotiation is for the Applicant and the Examiner to come to an agreement on what is patentable in the patent application. For an in-depth discussion on what happens after an Applicant files a patent application, visit this page. 


How Long Does It Take To Get A Patent?

Once a patent application is filed, the Patent Office estimates that it will take 26 months to reach either a final Office action or an allowance. To learn more about what a final Office action is, click here. To learn more about how long it will take to get a patent, click here.


Where Can I Find Other Issued Patents?

Our favorite place to look for issued patents is Google Patents. Using Google Patents, you can type in an application number or a publication number to pull up a specific patent. One advantage of Google Patents is that each patent is searchable. Alternatively, you may type descriptive words into Google Patents to find patents related to those search terms. As a backup, you can also search the Patent Office’s patent search portal located here. While the Patent office is the direct source for all published and issued patents, it is not as user friendly as Google Patents. 


Help – My Patent Was Rejected. What Does This Mean?

It’s common practice for a patent application to be rejected in the first Office action. Having a patent application rejected by the Patent Office does not mean that a patent application does not deserve a patent or that it won’t ultimately become an issued patent. The first Office action will almost certainly be a rejection. That rejection is just the starting point for the negotiation that occurs between the Examiner at the Patent Office and the Applicant. Click this to visit our page that discussion patent rejections.