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What is a Patent Application?

A patent application is a written, legal document requesting the issuance of a patent for an invention. Patent applications are submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which is responsible for granting patent protection. Patents provide the inventor of a product or service with exclusive rights to its process, design, or system. There are three main types of patents in the US: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents.

Key Takeaways

  • Patent applications are written, legal requests for patent protection from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
  • A patent gives an inventor exclusive rights over the design, process, or system of a product or service. 
  • Each year, the USPTO receives upwards of 500,000 patent applications.
  • Although a patent application can be filed without an attorney, it is highly recommended that you work with an experienced intellectual property lawyer.

Types of Patent Applications

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to patent applications. There are a number of different types of patent applications, including:

Non-Provisional Utility Patent Applications: This is the most common patent application filed with the USPTO. As these patents are considered somewhat permanent, there are many important components to non-provisional utility patent applications. The process is considered lengthy and complex compared to filing a provisional patent application.

Provisional Applications: Provisional applications provide temporary protection for an invention or creation. They last for one year and give the inventor an opportunity to further develop the invention before filing a non-provisional patent application. These applications cost significantly less than non-provisional applications.

Divisional Patent Applications: A divisional patent application contains subject-matter from a previously filed patent application. If an examiner determines there is more than one invention within one patent application, you will be asked to file divisional patent applications for those additional creations.

Components of a Patent Application

Drafting a patent application of any kind can be challenging. The USPTO has strict rules and regulations regarding what needs to be included in a patent application, so there are a great deal of moving parts in the process that need to be taken into account. Patent applications typically involve complex legal language, so it is recommended that you work alongside an attorney at this stage.

The following are a few essential elements of a patent application:

Abstract: An abstract summarizing the invention is one of the main required elements of a patent application. In about 150 words, the abstract concisely describes the invention.

Claims: The claim stipulates the exact features that will be shielded from infringement by the patent and describes the exclusivity the applicant will receive and outlines third-party rights that will come into effect once the patent is granted. 

Drawings: With the exception of chemical compounds or compositions, most patent applications include drawings of the invention or creation. The drawing must show all claimed elements.

Bottom Line

According to US law, it is possible to apply for a patent without the help of a licensed attorney. However, without extensive knowledge of the US patent system, you may run into a number of challenges. Drafting a strong patent application requires powerful writing skills and familiarity with legal terms. Therefore, applying on your own is not typically recommended.

Apply for a patent with the help of one of our seasoned intellectual property attorneys at Attorney At Law.

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