DIY: How to File for a Non-Provisional Patent

By David Carnes

A patent protects your right to use and profit from an invention. Many individuals and businesses retain patent attorneys or patent agents to represent them in the application process, especially if the technology is complex or litigation is likely. Absent these complicating factors, it is possible to file a patent application on your own. In the United States, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) administers the examination and approval of patent applications. A non-provisional patent is valid for the full patent term – in most cases 20 years.

Step 1

Create a detailed description of your invention. This description should include prose, specifications, drawings and graphs describing your invention in such detail that a skilled practitioner could use your description to manufacture it himself.

Step 2

Draft patent claims for your invention. These claims should describe which specific features of your invention (such as a collapsible frame) warrant patent protection. Your claims must establish that your invention, and every feature of it that you seek to patent, is unique, useful and inventive.

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Step 3

Write an abstract for your patent application. The abstract should be 150 words or less and should state succinctly what your invention is, what it does and how its main components work.

Step 4

Create digital copies of your descriptions, claims and abstract.

Step 5

Navigate to the USPTO website and register with the Electronic Filing System (EFS-Web) on the "Getting Started – New Users" page. Obtain a customer number and digital certificate. Registration allows you to track the status of your patent application online and electronically save your patent application materials on the USPTO website.

Step 6

Complete the Application Transmittal form, which is a cover sheet for your application. It requires you to supply basic facts about your application along with your mailing address.

Step 7

Complete the Fee Transmittal form. This form is used to calculate the applicable fees.

Step 8

Complete a Declaration for Utility or Design Patent Application form. You must list your name and contact details; the name, contact details and citizenship of each inventor; provide information about any foreign patent applications that may have been filed with respect to this invention; and declare that you believe the listed inventors are the first inventors of the technology you seek to patent.

Step 9

Prepare an Application Data Sheet. Follow the instructions provided in the format guide issued by the USPTO. This document requires you to supply bibliographic information about yourself and to list previously filed patent applications, if any, with respect to the invention.

Step 10

Submit the Application Transmittal and the Fee Transmittal form, the Declaration for Utility or Design Patent Application, the Application Data Sheet, and your description, claims and abstract to the USPTO using the EFS-Web filing system.

Step 11

Pay the application filing fee, which will be several hundred dollars. You can remit your payment online by credit or debit card, via electronic funds transfer (EFT) or from a USPTO deposit account.

Step 12

Respond to any correspondence you receive from the USPTO. It is normal to receive multiple requests for clarifications as well as demands for revisions to your application. If you disagree with the USPTO, submit a detailed explanation of your argument and reasoning.

Step 13

Pay the patent issuance fee once you are notified that your patent has been approved. Fees vary but you can expect to pay at least several hundred dollars for the patent issuance fee.

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How to Patent a Toy Idea



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Pros & Cons of Provisional Patent Application

When an inventor says that he has a "patent pending," it can mean that he has a provisional patent. Inventors who are low on funds or need a patent in a hurry often obtain a provisional patent. Although an application of a provisional patent is easier to file than one for a full utility patent, the provisional patent is only a step in the direction of obtaining a full patent and is not an end in itself. After one year, the provisional patent is discarded if you do not file for a full patent. While saving money and time are advantages of provisional patents, you should also be aware of possible pitfalls and how to avoid them.

How to Challenge a Patent

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants patents to allow inventors to enjoy legal monopolies on the beneficial uses of their inventions. Most patents are valid for 20 yeas after their initial filing date. If you believe that a patent was inappropriately or mistakenly granted, you may ask the USPTO to reexamine it. If the USPTO upholds the patent, you may appeal the decision to a U.S. federal court.

What If a Full Patent Is Not Approved and You Have a Provisional Patent?

In the United States, intellectual property rights are protected by the Constitution. Creative individuals are allowed the exclusive right to control and profit from their works, even if only for a specified amount of time. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) awards patents to inventors upon making a finding that an invention is unique and non-obvious. The patent application process is complicated and expensive, and it typically takes the PTO more than a year to complete its investigation and make a decision. One of the options that an inventor has to control the process is to submit a provisional patent application in lieu of a full non-provisional application; however, the provisional patent application process can mislead the filer into thinking he has existing rights that can be protected.

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