What is a Notice of Allowance Patent?

By Timothy Mucciante

When the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) intends to issue a patent, it sends the applicant a Notice of Allowance. For this to happen, an inventor provides information such as product description, design, and blueprints or drawings. A patent examiner then processes the patent application, and ultimately decides whether a patent should be issued. Thomas Jefferson and two friends were the first patent examiners, and granted America's first patent in 1790. Although opposed to monopolies of any kind, Jefferson recognized that inventors must have exclusivity over their products to encourage inventors to create new products.

When the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) intends to issue a patent, it sends the applicant a Notice of Allowance. For this to happen, an inventor provides information such as product description, design, and blueprints or drawings. A patent examiner then processes the patent application, and ultimately decides whether a patent should be issued. Thomas Jefferson and two friends were the first patent examiners, and granted America's first patent in 1790. Although opposed to monopolies of any kind, Jefferson recognized that inventors must have exclusivity over their products to encourage inventors to create new products.

The Patent Examination Process

A patent application has three parts: a description of the invention, the inventor's claims of what the invention is supposed to do, and drawings or blueprints (which may be in draft form) of the invention. Once the inventor provides this information, a patent examiner reviews the application, ensuring that the required information is included. He then searches for prior art, and compares the proposed invention with those already given patent protection. This search process will confirm whether the applicant has proposed a novel invention. If so, the inventor is entitled to patent protection.

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Notice of Allowance

When the examiner determines that the patent application is complete and meets all statutory requirements, he sends a Notice of Allowance to the applicant, indicating the intention of granting him a patent. For the patent to be issued, the applicant must complete two additional steps after receiving the notice -- pay the required issue fee and submit any final drawings. The USPTO must receive the issue fee and final drawings within three months of when the USPTO mailed the notice to the applicant. These are statute-mandated steps and no exceptions or extensions can be granted.

Further Requirements After the Notice of Allowance

A Notice of Allowance And Fee(s) Due form (PTOL-85), has several parts. Part B of that form must be signed and returned to the USPTO address at the top of the form, together with the issue fee. If the applicant included draft drawings in the application, he must also send final drawings to the USPTO with Part B. Unless the final drawings change the patent specifications, the examiner does not need to review them again.

Publication

No earlier than 18 months after the earliest filing date of a patent application, the USPTO will publish the patent. Upon publication, the patent itself and the patent file is available to the public. The applicant may request that the patent be published earlier than the 18 month requirement, since the waiting period is to protect the applicant. Until the USPTO publishes the patent, no information about the patent may be disclosed to the public. The applicant must also pay a publication fee before the patent is issued.

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Basic Facts for Getting a Patent

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How to Get a Temporary Patent

A provisional patent offers some of the same protections of a non-provisional patent, such as legal protection of your invention from use by someone else, but is cheaper than a non-provisional patent and expires 12 months from the filing date. An applicant who files a provisional application must file a corresponding non-provisional application for patent during the 12-month pendency period of the provisional application to benefit from the earlier filing of the provisional application. An alternative to filing a corresponding non-provisional application is to convert the provisional application to a non-provisional application by filing a grantable petition requesting such a conversion within 12 months of the provisional application filing date. If you do not do this, you may be prevented from filing a patent for your invention in the future. Once granted a provisional patent, you may use the term "patent pending" on your invention.

What Is a Child Patent?

When patent attorneys refer to parents and children, they mean something very different than when practitioners of family law use the same words. After you file a patent application, you can file a continuation of that application. The continuation is a new patent application that contains some of the same material as the original application. Under these circumstances, the original application is called the parent and the subsequent application is called a child. Continuations can be filed any time before the parent is accepted or rejected. The Manual of Patent Examination Procedures, commonly known as the MPEP, describes several important types of continuations.

What Is a WO Patent?

"WO" is a suffix to a patent number that indicates that the original patent application was filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, an international treaty that harmonizes the patent application process among member nations. Although the World Intellectual Property Organization oversees this process, it does not issue international patents; instead, applicants must complete the last phase of the patent application process with the patent office of each nation where they desire patent protection.

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