How to proceed after the approval of the patent application?
An application is filed for a patent by a person or a company who wants the authority to the invention or product they have invented.
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Filing an Application
The process of filling a patent starts with filling a provisional application or non-provisional application. Now, the provisional application does not follow any proper patent drafting or a proper claim format.
The purpose of filling out a provisional application is to tell the examiner that the inventor has an inventive idea. By filling out a provisional application, the inventor gets one year (i.e., 12 months) time to work on the invention, claims, drafting, and filling a non-provisional application.
A non-provisional document is a descriptive form of provisional application that contains a proper description of the invention and at least one claim is used to define the scope of protection.
Patent in the Examination Phase
Once a patent application is filed, the applicant is expected to wait. It may take 18-24 months or more until the examination begins. Before assigning the non-provisional application to the examiner, the patent office reviews the basic components of the application i.e., compliance with the drawings, execution of formal documents, etc. When the application is under examination, the examiner will run its own prior art searches and give an official action that indicates whether your invention is allowed or rejected.
If the application gets rejected, the examiner will provide proper analysis and prior art to justify elucidating why the claims disclosed in the invention got rejected. The grounds of rejection include lack of novelty (i.e., prior arts which disclose the same invention before the application was made) and obviousness (i.e., a prior art could be modified, or more than one prior art combined, in a way obvious to one skilled in the field to arrive at the invention).
The applicant can submit a response by providing the claim amendments or providing arguments for the prior arts raised by the examiner. Until either the application is allowed or is given the final rejection, the process might keep on repeating.
When the Patent is Allowed
When the patent application meets the necessary criteria of novelty, non-obviousness, feasibility, and usefulness, the patent office examiners determine that the patent is “allowed.” The applicants are notified of this certification, as well as the fact that the patent office is ready to award the patent if certain fees have been paid and documentation has been submitted by the inventors or assignees. The applicant must pay the issue fee within 3-months of the grant of the patent.
Once the patent is allowed, the patent status is no longer pending. The invention can no longer be produced or sold without the consent of the applicant. The applicant should mark a patented invention with “patented” and the patent number instead of “patent pending”.
A fee [also called “maintenance fee” or “renewal fee”] needs to be paid to maintain a patent or a patent application in force at 3.5-year, 7.5-year, and 11.5-year intervals. After the patent is allowed, the inventor/assignee can mark their products in the market with the patent number, so that the market knows about the patented product. This action also eliminates an innocent infringer defense.
The major reason for patenting an invention and what an applicant can do when the patent is granted is summarized below:
- The applicant can launch his/her product in the market so that he/she can get a return on the time, effort, and money that has been invested in developing the technology.
- The applicant can enforce the patent to exclude competition, by monopolizing the market and setting a high price.
- When the applicant is not willing to launch the product, he/she can obtain the license for the invention.
- The applicant can get patent royalties which are made by issuing a license for the use of the patent/ product.
- The applicant can stop a company or person from using the product.
- Suing for damages if a person or business infringes on the product/ patent.
- The applicant can send a legal notice to the company/ person to take the license.
- The applicant can sell the invention/ product to a third party.
- The applicant may sell his or her invention, and the value of a patent is determined by its market worth and strength.
After the patent is allowed, the applicant has the right to prevent or stop others from commercially exploiting the patented invention. In other words, a particular invention/ product cannot be used, imported, sold, or commercially made by others without the consent of the applicant. Also, the capitalists look for opportunities and try to invest their money into the companies that have their products/ inventions patented. Thus, patents reflect the worth of companies in the industry.
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