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.

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.

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.

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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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Elements of a Patent

References

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How to Renew a Patent

Patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are designed to encourage discovery and invention by granting exclusive rights to reproduce or sell an invention or design for a period of time. You must pay maintenance fees to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to maintain your patent for the full period.

How to File a Software Patent

A patent protects the legal right of the patent holder to prevent others from using or profiting from his invention without his authorization. Although copyright law protects software, it is possible to patent software in the United States. Software patents are a type of utility patent. They are controversial because critics contend that they discourage innovation; in fact, many countries refuse to grant software patents. A utility patent expires 20 years after the patent application is first filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Overturning a Patent

A patent is a right to exclude others from making, using or selling an invention of yours. To be eligible for patent protection, the invention must incorporate original technology that has never been publicly released before. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, reserves the right to invalidate a patent even after it is granted, if it discovers that the patented technology is not original or that information about it was publicly released before the patent application was filed.

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