Thursday, July 7, 2011

Basic Patenting Process Timeline

Entrepreneurs have repeatedly asked this blogger for a basic timeline of the patenting process.  Because such a short article cannot begin to explore all of the forks in the road (or all of the details) of the patenting process I've been reluctant to try and summarize the timeline.  That being said, and because I could no longer leave your sincere requests un-answered, here is an ABBREVIATED TIMELINE  (with times measured before and after the filing date):

T-12 months: Legal cutoff for including subject matter that was involved in a “public disclosure” in the application.  See The First Three Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know About Patents.
T-3 or 4 months: Deadline to avoid paying most patent attorneys “rush” fees.
T-1 month: Draft application likely to be provided to you assuming you engaged a patent attorney in a timely manner.
T-2 weeks: Your final comments on the draft are usually due.
T0: Filing date.  Begin marking pertinent products with “patent pending.”  WARNING: OFFERS FOR SALE OF AND/OR ATTEMPTS TO COMMERCIALIZE products/services incorporating a potentially patentable idea can INVALIDATE THE APPLICATION under the America Invents Act.
T+12 months: Foreign application filing deadline.
T+18 months: The Patent Office publishes the application, it becomes public knowledge, and loses any trade secret status that you might have otherwise preserved.
T+2 to 3 years: First substantive review by the Patent Office is likely.  “Prosecution” (i.e. argument with the Patent Office) is likely to continue over issues and for a time that are unique to each application. 
Either abandonment or allowance follows prosecution.  It is impossible to predict which will occur or when.
Issuance: The right to exclude others from infringing the claims of your issued patent begins.
3 to 3.5 years from issuance:  The first maintenance fee is due for issued patents.  Maintenance fees are also due at 7 and 11 years from issuance.
T+20 years: The patent expires.  The technology described by the claims enters the public domain.

So much remains to be discussed about the patenting process that I invite you to visit and/or contact us at 512-897-0399 if you have specifice issues not addressed by the abbreviated timeline presented above.

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