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Patent Prosecution

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What Is Patent Prosecution?

Patent Prosecution is the process of applying for and obtaining a patent. Patent prosecution should not be confused with "patent litigation," which is the term used to describe the process of protecting a patent from infringement.

A Patent is a property right granted by the United States Government. When an inventor owns a patent to his invention, he is able to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention in the US.

Who Can File an Application for Patent Prosecution?

Only the actual inventor can file for a patent. However, if the inventor is dead or legally insane, his legal representatives can submit an application.

Patent attorneys and patent agents are registered with the PTO to prepare, file, and prosecute patents in the name of their client.

What Can Be Patented?

  • A process: The way an invention performs.
  • A machine: A concrete thing consisting of parts or certain devices or combination of devices.
  • Article of manufacture: Production of articles for use from raw or prepared materials to give these materials new forms, qualities, or combinations either by hand or machinery. Examples: gloves, ceramics.
  • Composition of matter: Composition of two or more substances and composite articles either by chemical union or mechanical mixture, whether they’re gas, fluids, powders or solids. In addition, the term matter has been extended to include genetically altered living micro-organisms. Example: new sports drink.
  • Improvement of any of the above

What Is the Length of a Patent?

  • 20 years for utility and plant patents
  • 14 years for design patents

Costs of Obtaining a Patent

Filing Fees:

  • Utility $280
  • Design $180
  • Plant $180
  • Provisional patent: $260

Patent Search Fees: These fees pay for the PTO to search for relevant prior art

  • Utility $600
  • Design $120
  • Plant $380

Examination Fees: These fees pay for the PTO to determine whether the patent application satisfies the requirements for a patent to be granted:

  • Utility $720
  • Design $460
  • Plant $580

Do I Need an Attorney?

To apply for a patent, you should consult an experienced patent attorney. You attorney will help you understand the process and will guide you through any unexpected changes you might encounter.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 05-09-2014 02:37 PM PDT

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