There are few things in life that bring more satisfaction than creating wealth out of your own intellectual property. Something that exists because you thought of it and brought it to life. However, coming up with a great idea and figuring out a way to execute it isn’t enough. In order to protect your creation, it’s in your interest to seek patent protection. But how do you get it done? And what are the deadlines associated with the process?
What is a Patent?
A patent is the protection you receive from the U.S. federal government so that you can prevent third parties from selling or otherwise profiting from something you invented. In order for your creation to be considered an invention, it has to be a new item or process. It must also include a detailed description of how to make it.
How to Apply for a Patent
To apply for patent protection, you must create an account and submit an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). However, before getting started with that process, you first need to conduct what’s called a patent search. This is done to determine whether someone else has already come up with the same or a similar idea and has already applied for their own patent protection.
Once you find out whether you qualify to apply for patent protection, you then have to determine what kind of patent you need to apply for. These include:
This type of patent protects the design for items that have yet to be manufactured. Once you receive protection, it lasts for 14 years from the date the patent was issued.
A utility patent protects the creation of any new product or machinery. Once you receive protection, it lasts for 20 years from the date the patent was issued.
This type of patent protects the reproduction of a new variety of plant. Once you receive protection, it lasts for 17 years from the date the patent was issued.
How long the process takes varies depending on your specific case. And once the patent is approved, you have to pay maintenance fees to keep your protection.
What are the Deadlines to Obtain a Patent?
To File an Application
35 U.S. Code, Section 102 establishes that you must file your patent application within one year of your first offer to sell your invention, or within one year from when you first disclosed your invention publicly. You do not have to build your invention in order to apply for protection. However, you must describe how to make it in sufficient detail so that the person/entity creating it would be able to follow the instructions and build it. If the deadline occurs on a holiday or weekend, it is extended to the next business day.
That being said, the USPTO granted deadline extensions for certain patents, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Small and micro entities received 30 day extensions, while large entities are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Larger entities may submit a petition for extension with the USPTO.
The one-year deadline applies when you are seeking patent protection within the United States. If you are also seeking foreign protection, you must apply before the invention is publicly disclosed. To apply for such protection, you have to file an international application with the USPTO or the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which allows protection in a large list of countries by filing a single application.
To File a Response to the USPTO
Most replies have to be filed within six months from the mailing date on the official letter from the USPTO. However, depending on the action requested by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, such a deadline may be shortened to two or three months. And in certain scenarios, the USPTO will instruct a different deadline on the letter.
Failing to file your response during the applicable timeframe will result in your application being deemed as abandoned. Responses can be submitted through the USPTO Electronic Filing System, by fax, mail, or in person.
To Appeal a USPTO Decision
If your application has been rejected twice, you may appeal with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The timeframe to do so is within six months, unless the rejection notice specifies a shorter deadline. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may file for an extension of time.
If You Need Help to Obtain Patent Protection, Sanchelima & Associates Can Help
Sanchelima & Associates, P.A. is one of the leading intellectual property law firms in South Florida. With over 40 years of experience, we have represented the IP interests of a wide array of businesses, including Fortune 500 companies — and we can do business in the United States and internationally. Whether you need a consultation or prosecution of a patent, trademark or copyright, we can protect your business’s interests.
Contact us to schedule an appointment.