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Our Services : Patent : US Utility Patent Application, Overview

Utility US Patent Application

A Utility Patent Decision Help Guide
The Patent Application Process, an interactive flowchart
General patent process
Why do a patentability search
Bay Area IP’s patent practice
Simplest ways to save money
Other money saving options available
Patent Prosecution
How to get started?

 

Patent Application Process Overview

The nonprovisional, Utility Patent Application process generally consists of inventionsearching for prior-artgetting a patentability opinionapplying for a patent, and prosecuting the application until the patent is awarded. See our illustrated interactive flowchart of the patent process for more details. If you are interested in a Provisional Patent Application please read our Provisional Application web page.  To answer many questions you may have, it may be helpful to review our A Utility Patent Decision Help GuideFAQ on Patentsbasic Patent information, and our overview of the Utility Patent Application practice.

Why do a patentability search

In light of a seminal court decision referred to as Festo, it is now practically mandatory to do an extensive prior-art patentability search to ensure that your patent will have maximal scope through an important legal mechanism known as the Doctrine of Equivalence.  Before you have your patent application prepared, we strongly urge you to have a patent prior-art search andpatentability opinion done by a professional.  For more details, please review our patentability search page.

Bay Area IP’s patent practice

Bay Area Intellectual Property Group (Bay Area IP) is a highly competitive firm whose patent practice has a great depth and breadth of experience.  This experience drives our holistic approach that not only achieves high patent quality, but also efficiently delivers a high quality of service.  We strive for a 4 week turnaround time for average patent application drafts, and usually can rush a job to meet a bar date depending on our workload. 

At Bay Area IP, we are particularly adept in employing the wide array of patent prosecution procedures sometimes necessary to attain an awarded patent.  Typical procedures used, for example, include protests, appeals, and petitions.  Bay Area IP has experience in drafting and/or prosecuting patent applications in a wide variety of technical areas.  We are continually broadening our technical expertise to better serve you, and reduce your cost.  Given our strong technical knowledge base in most hi-technology areas, we seldom require much, if any, learning of the prior-art technology to understand your invention.  When it comes to high technology, we "speak your language", which saves our clients a great deal time and effort.

Even in particularly difficult technical areas at the fringes of our focus, patent attorneys spend most of their learning time on the first patent application, and learning time diminishes quickly thereafter because inventions tend to be incremental improvements in the same technology area. 

It is generally accepted that the specification and claims of a patent constitute one of the most difficult legal instruments to accurately write.  The critical areas where problems often occur are in understanding /appreciation of the invention, drafting/prosecuting the application, and in claim interpretation by the courts.  One of Bay Area IP’s strong advantages, beyond our extensive legal experitise, is that we employ only highly seasoned scientists and engineers to draft and prosecute your patent application to ensure that your invention is accurately defined and claimed.  Beyond solid specification and claims drafting skills, a strong technological grasp of the invention and prior-art is also imperative to achieving maximal claim scope and minimal patent contamination, which contamination weakens the patent in litigation. 

Unfortunately, even what was a well-written patent yesterday may loose much of its value after an unfavorable precedence set by a new court decision.  That is why Bay Area IP continually analyzes and assesses recent legal decisions to design an optimal patent practice.  We also keep a close eye on major court cases in-progress and may preemptively adjust our patent practice to hedge against potential changes in law.  Bay Area IP actively engages its assets and time in all of these critical areas to maximize the value of your awarded patent.  

We also believe in educating you in plain English about legal or practical issues that require an opportunity-cost decision in our patent practice.  The standard practice at many, if not most, other firms is for the patent attorney to make all the decisions for you, and this is our default practice as well; however, for those clients that desire a more personalized service and tighter control of their patent’s risk-reward profile, Bay Area IP will explain to you the issues, recommend a course of action, and faithfully execute your final decision(s). 

Simplest ways to save money when patenting

At Bay Area IP we make every attempt to minimize your costs.  Unlike many IP firms in the industry, we understand that when we lower your cost to acquire a patent, you are more likely to come back to us to patent your new inventions.  Generally speaking, you save money to the extent you do work that reduces our time spent on your case.  The simplest way our clients save money or to boost patent quality is to do the following:

1.              Prepare a very detailed technical description (in plain-English) of the invention, drawing, etc.

2.              Do your own prior-art search.

A prior-art search helps us write the claims and background sections of the application more efficiently and effectively.

Unlike some firms, we do not play marketing games in our pricing strategy.  Some firms charge extremely low fees to draft/file the patent application, but pad their prosecution bills to recover there discounting and make above market profits.  Instead, Bay Area IP keeps its overhead low so we can pass these savings on to you in the form of very competitive total cost, while providing you top quality service and work product.  Many patent firms, unfortunately, play a sort of ‘bait-and-switch’ tactic where they advertise their “simplest case”, or “minimum fee”, estimate, and charge you substantially higher fees as you discover your case was not simple enough to qualify.  In contrast, Bay Area IP shows you a detailed breakout of typical or flat-fee costs for many levels of complexity, thereby giving you significantly more predictability of what your true cost will be. 

The cost to procure and maintain an awarded patent comprises the following general expenses:

    1. Patent application preparationdrawings (usually 2-4), and filing
    2. USPTO Patent Prosecution (usually 1-2 office actions, the first typically occurs between 9 and 18 months after filing)
    3. Periodic Maintenance fees 

You should always get a written cost estimate from the patent firm you are considering.  If they will not give you one, then you likely cannot afford there services.  We strongly believe in a "no surprises" billing approach.  To that end, prior to engagement for casework, we provide inventors with a firm, written quotation that is several pages long and lists the costs of (a) preparing and filing a (non-)provisional application, (b) preparing legal responses for Office Actions (rejections) on the Merits, and (c) issue fee costs.  Our quotation give you an overall constraint on the total costs involved, and how they are spread over time.

 

Utility Patent Prosecution

About 14 months after filing your patent application, the USPTO examiner will usually issue a preliminary patentability conclusion (usually a rejection) referred to as an office action. Thereafter, during what is call prosecution, your patent practitioner will prepare a response, often referred to as an amendment, to the office action. The time required to prepare the amendment largely depends on the complexity of the subject matter and the strength of the examiners rejection. We forward official actions to the client upon receipt, and include any comments for the client’s consideration and provide a no-obligation cost quote to prepare the response.  The client then pays Bay Area IP a retainer in the estimated amount, within sufficient time (preferably no less than 30 days) before the legal response is due. 

When the patent application matures to issuance, we mail the client a notice and the issue fee that is due.  Then the issue fee is paid within three months from the notice of allowance; and the patent is awarded.  After issuance, maintenance fees become due at 3.5 years, 7.5 years, and 11.5 years after the issuance date. 

The cost of preparing an office action legal response in any patent case principally depends on two aspects of the patent examination process:
  1. The technology complexity of the invention; and
  2. Examiner rejection veracity.  NOTE:  Most patent applications are rejected at first; thus, applicants tend to incur additional legal cost for amendments responding to examiner office actions.

Nearly all cases are suitable for remote clients who can communicate via the Internet, mail, and telephone.  An exception might be, for example, the very rare case where to understand the invention it is critical to view a cumbersome prototype that cannot be shipped; that is, where pictures and schematics of the invention are inadequate.  For all other cases, when working with a remote client it is generally sufficient to have in advance common detailed, numbered diagrams, a detailed description, and/or photos of the invention prior to the telephone and/or Internet disclosure meeting.

For information on how to get started and to learn about our free initial consultation offer go to our get started page web page.

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Legal Notice: None of the information provided in this website should be construed as or used as legal advice. The information provided here is for educational purposes only, in order to help inventors learn background information before consulting a practitioner. Since the best course of action in any specific matter will depend on the specific facts of the matter, NOTHING on this site can provide a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel. Consult with a professional for specific advice regarding your particular situation.

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