Everything You Need To Know About Patent Publications

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The legal paraphernalia surrounding patents can be tough to comprehend. There are multiple jargon, procedures, criteria, etc., that a layman finds difficult to navigate through. Patent publications are one such phenomenon. They are an important component of the patent application process in the USA. Once a non-provisional patent application is filed, the publication is made by the USPTO within 18 months of its earliest effective priority date. Read on to know more about patent publications and why they are important.  

Table of Contents

What Is A Patent Publication? 

A patent publication is the published application of a utility patent. It consists of the drawings and written specifications of the invention. When a patent application is published, it becomes available to the public and forms prior art for other similar patent applications. A patent application publication only offers a listing and does not provide any information on the subsequent fate of the patent application. 

Identifying A Patent Publication 

The format for all patent publications in the United States begins with ‘US‘, followed by the year of publication, and then a six or seven-digit number which is unique to the application. As opposed to this, a granted US Utility patent will have ‘US’ followed directly by a 7-digit or 8-digit number.  

Example of a Patent Publication Number: US2021/0122675  
Example of a Patent Number: US98221098 

Patent Published vs Granted 

The difference between a patent grant and application is that a patent publication is not a granted patent. It is only the public information of the details of a patent application that serves some important purposes, like:  

  • It serves as prior art since it is the disclosure of the published application. The validity of a patent publication as prior art stands for future applications, even if the patent is not granted.  
  • It allows any interested party to monitor the progress of a published utility application, including any Office Actions.   
  • In case the patent is granted, the patent owner may claim reasonable royalty for any infringement activity that may have occurred from the application date to the date of issue.   
  • It informs competitors about your IP activities in a specific domain.   
  • It grants recognition to the applicant. A published patent application gives credit to the inventor and makes the invention public.   
  • Any patent searches made on the USPTO patent database will feature a published application for anyone attempting to work on a similar invention.   

Can You Request Non-Publication? 

All utility non-provisional patent applications are published by default. If an applicant does not wish to publish the patent application, they have to submit a Nonpublication Request. This special request has to be submitted at the same time as the patent application for the request to be considered. This application can be rescinded anytime during the patent application process.

Reasons To Request Non-Publication 

There are several reasons for an inventor to request a patent application to remain confidential:  

  1. The inventor does not want competitors to be aware of their IP activity and decides to wait for the disclosure to happen once the patent has been granted.   
  2. To keep all communications with the USPTO private.  
  3. To avoid forming prior art in the USPTO database in case their application is rejected, and they want to file it again.  

If any of the above reasons apply to you, it makes sense to request for non-publication. But if you have any current or future plans to file a foreign application outside of the USA, then it is mandatory to publish the patent application. 


Patent publications are discretionary only if the matter disclosed in the patent application will not be the subject of a foreign application. Therefore, it is best to take the decision of publication seriously and with the aid of an experienced attorney. Discuss your goals and objectives regarding the patent with your attorney to understand if patent publication is recommended for you.   

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