Protecting the intellectual property of an inventor can be a tricky process. While some may prefer the security and obscurity offered by treating an invention as a trade secret, the monopoly guaranteed by a patent is more attractive to others. The monopoly provided by a patent lasts 20 years for utility patents (as long as the proper maintenance fees are paid on time) and 14 years for design patents. However, it takes time for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to process a patent application and grant the patent. You will need to be extremely patient.

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First Office Action

Patents are reviewed sequentially. At any given time, the USPTO has a backlog of several thousand applications, and just a few thousand examiners on hand to review them. As a result, it takes about two years for a patent to be processed. Your first response from the USPTO is called an “Office Action.” Since you will have to respond to the action, and the USPTO will then have to respond to your response, you can safely estimate that it will take at least three years from the date of your initial application to receive your patent.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Patent in Special Cases?

It can take even longer to get your patent if you are submitting an application for a patent in a high-traffic field such as computer software. In such cases, getting your patent can take twice as long, even if you are not required to file any special documents to support your application. If you are required to file a Request for Continuing Examination or a Continuation Application, your patent may be pending for five to six years. If you must appeal a decision to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, you can expect to add another year and to pay additional fees – and there is no guarantee that you will win your appeal and receive your patent.

Having an attorney’s expertise can make a huge difference when navigating the patent process. We can help you ask a lawyer a legal question now.

Get started Create Your Provisional Patent Application Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.

Get started Create Your Provisional Patent Application Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.