The US Patent Process

Applying for a patent can be complex and time-consuming. People who aren’t familiar with the process can run into hurdles that lead to delays and higher costs.

If you’re thinking about applying for a patent, here are a few important questions to consider. Keep in mind, this is a high-level overview and shouldn’t be construed as legal advice.  If you are looking for advice, please call us at 408-441-7500 today.


Does my product or idea qualify for a patent?

Not every invention, formula or idea can be patented; there is specific criteria that your invention needs to meet and pass before being accepted.  For example, your invention also has to meet the legal definitions of ‘useful’ and ‘operative.’ Also, it has to be sufficiently different from anything else that’s already been patented.

So before you begin you need to make sure your idea and disclosure meets certain criteria. It also may be advisable to conduct a search for what’s called “prior art” – similar inventions that have already been disclosed. Here’s where a good patent attorney can help. Determining whether your idea is different enough to deserve its own patent protection often requires the guidance of a legal expert.

Do I have to have an attorney or can I do it on my own?

The application process is complex. There are fees, application procedures, supporting documents, etc. required when going through the process with the US patent office. When you describe your product or invention, you’ll have to list out every last detail for two reasons:

  1. You need to present as convincing a case as possible to the patent examiner who evaluates your application to determine whether it is patentable. Every detail should be laid out and explained.
  1. The language you use in your application is the language that a judge will scrutinize if you have to litigate your patent in court – if your language isn’t airtight, your case won’t be either.

Having correct jargon and supporting language in your patent application is key.  You want to make sure your application is complete and accurate.  That includes all necessary fees and supporting documents that help you avoid rejections and costly delays that could give your competitors time to catch up.  That is why you’ll want a legal expert to guide you.  A good patent attorney will help you draw up a complete application that hopefully results in the issuance of a patent.

What if my application is denied?

Unfortunately, that’s not uncommon after the initial review by the patent office. You will have an opportunity to communicate further with the patent office regarding your invention. If you are not satisfied or are rejected again you may appeal the decision, which has its own set of rules and procedures.

My application was accepted. What now?

If your application is approved, you’ll receive the paperwork by mail. You’ll need to pay an issue fee and any maintenance fees that apply, and it’s your responsibility to be aware when your patent expires or police your invention to see if there may be any potential infringers.  You can also license your patent to third parties to generate royalties from your invention or approach companies who might have interest in buying your patent from you.

How much does it cost to get a patent with a patent attorney?

As with most legal bills, the cost is a function of the time invested. Generally, the more technical your invention, the more legal research is required and the more intricate your application argument will have to be. To fully understand what is required contact our San Jose Business Lawyers today.

Discuss your Intellectual Property needs with a San Jose Business Lawyer

While the patent process can be complex, our attorneys at Structure Law Group, LLP are here to make the process easier for you.  Our team has in-depth knowledge of patents and other intellectual-property protections and can help you through every step of the patent process.  Call 408-441-7500 to schedule an appointment or to speak with an attorney today.