What is Patent Docketing?

By Lisa Magloff

Patent docketing is a method or system for managing the patent application process. Docketing is a particularly crucial tool for patent law firms, as it can be difficult to organize the patent application process for hundreds of patents without some type of system or software package to keep track of the many deadlines and documents involved. Many large patent law firms employ docketing specialists to manage the patent docketing process.


Law firms that deal in patent law may handle hundreds of patent cases at a time. Each patent application can take years to make its way through the United States Patent Office (USPO) system and be awarded a patent. As the patent application makes its way through the approval process, called patent prosecution, there are many filing deadlines, documents, forms, drawings and statements to keep track of. Patent docketing ensures that all the deadlines are met and all documents are labelled and kept in the correct file, so they can be retrieved when required.

Docketing Process

The patent application process generates a great deal of paperwork. As this paperwork comes in to a law office, it is the docketers' job to correctly label each document with the file number or name and to place it into the correct part of the electronic or paper patent file. Patent docketing also includes entering each document into a database so attorneys can easily call up a list of all documents in the application file and any dates associated with each document. For example, a patent attorney may need to see if any deadlines are coming up for filing a piece of paperwork with the USPO. The docketing database can be used to alert her of filing or other deadlines. Docketers must also scan copies of documents, create templates and forward documents to other law firms as required.

File a provisional application for patent online. Get Started Now

Insurance Requirements

All patent law insurance carriers require patent law firms to maintain a docket that stores the patent application documents and alerts attorneys to any upcoming deadlines in the application process. This is to prevent malpractice lawsuits when a law firm misses a filing date and causes a patent to be rejected by the USPO. Many insurance carriers require, not one, but two dockets, in which deadlines are entered and calculated by two different people in the firm.

Docketing Software

There is a great deal of specialized patent docketing software available to manage the patent docketing process. Programs can track actions and calculate due dates, as well as keep track of documents, schedules, audit logs and alerts. Most software programs also allow the docketer to add custom dates and documents associated with a particular patent, and many programs can keep track of dates for patent applications in multiple countries.

File a provisional application for patent online. Get Started Now
Why Do Patents Expire?


Related articles

What Is a Patent File Wrapper?

A patent is a grant made by the United States Patent and Trademark Office that gives inventors and creators exclusive rights to sell and license their inventions. A patent creates an ownership right in intellectual property. The patent application process, also known as the patent prosecution, is a lengthy administrative process requiring the creation and filing of a large number of documents, which are contained in a file wrapper. The contents of the file wrapper may serve an important legal function in the event of a dispute over the patent.

Examples of Patents

President George Washington signed the first American patent granted to Samuel Hopkins in 1790 for a product used to manufacture fertilizer. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office now recognizes more than six million patents. A legal patent protects the use of the invention by other Americans and residents of countries recognizing international patent laws.

How to Patent a Food Product to Sell

The United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, is responsible for reviewing patent applications of new inventions. If you create a new food product that you intend to sell, obtaining a patent is beneficial since it provides you with legal protection in the event another person or organization tries to profit from your food invention. However, preparing your non-provisional utility patent application requires a number of documents that can take some time to prepare.

Start here. LegalZoom. Legal help is here. LLCs. Corporations. Patents. Attorney help. Patents

Related articles

How Much Does a Patent Search Cost?

An invention may be patentable if it is novel and non-obvious. The words “novel” and “ non-obvious” are legal terms ...

How Do I Patent My Idea?

A patent protects an inventor's right to produce the product he invented, preventing others from selling or using the ...

How to File a U.S. Patent for Free

A patent is a claim of exclusive ownership rights to a mechanical invention, process or an improvement of an existing ...

DIY: How to File for a Non-Provisional Patent

A patent protects your right to use and profit from an invention. Many individuals and businesses retain patent ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED