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Patent Process Figures

US Utility Patent Prosecution Process

  1. Begin. File provisional patent application to preserve rights up to 1 year.
  2. University to continue patent prosecution?
    1. Yes, proceed to Step 3.
    2. No, University may offer technology back to inventor. End.
  3. File nonprovisional patent application.
  4. Patent examiner reviews application for patentability.
  5. Is claimed invention patentable?
    1. Yes, jump to Step 11.
    2. No, proceed to Step 6.
  6. Patent examiner issues a non-final rejection.
  7. Patent examine accepts arguments or amended claims?
    1. Yes, jump to Step 11.
    2. No, go to Step 6 or Step 8. 
  8. Patent examiner issues a final rejection.
  9. University may appeal examiner’s position to appeal board or courts.
  10. Appeal successful? 
    1. Yes, proceed to Step 11.
    2. No, patent is not allowed. End.
  11. Patent examiner allows claimed invention and requests fees.
  12. Patent issues, which then becomes enforceable. End.

Patent Prosecution Timeline

  • A provisional application is filed based on a submitted invention disclosure. This starts the Provisional Phase.
  • At the conclusion of the 12-month Provisional Phase is the nonprovisional application filing deadline for either the National or International Phase. 
  • National Phase (USA Only)
    • The application publishes approximately 18 months after the provisional filing.
    • US patent prosecution (examination) can take 2 to 5 years.
    • The application may become abandoned.
    • The application may issue into a patent, in which case maintenance fees are due at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years after the patent issues. 
    • The patent expires approximately 20 years after the nonprovisional application is filed.
  • International Phase (with USA)
    • The International Search Report (ISR) / written opinion privately issues about 16 months after the provisional application is filed.
    • The application publishes about 18 months after the provisional filing.
    • The National Stage Entry Deadline is 30 months after the provisional application is filed. This starts the National Stage Phase.
    • The National Stage Phase can take place in any Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) participating state, including USA, Europe, Japan, China, among many others.

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