Patent examiners are United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) employees that work closely with patent applicants to determine whether a patent will be granted. Examiners often hold scientific or technological backgrounds that provide significant insight regarding certain inventions or creations. Generally, the patent examiner has extensive expertise in the subject matter of a particular invention.
According to the USPTO, an official patent examiner has a number of important roles set forth by United States Federal Law, including:
Let’s take a closer look at the process of patent examination for a better understanding of a patent examiners' roles.
1. Determining the correct application
Before getting started with your patent application, you must first decide which type of application you should file depending on your specific circumstances. There are several different types of patent applications. An experienced intellectual property attorney will be able to advise you on the matter.
2. Seeing if an invention is patentable
Although intellectual property laws are meant to protect the rights of inventions and creations, not all forms of IP are eligible to receive patent protection. Be sure to review the USPTO’s guidelines on patentability and conduct a proper prior art patent search.
3. Prepare and submit your application
Once you have decided on the correct application, it is time to complete the relevant paperwork and submit your application to the USPTO. While you can handle this process independently, it is much easier to navigate the patent application process with the help of a skilled intellectual property attorney.
4. Work alongside your patent examiner
Your patent application will then be assigned to a specific patent examiner with a background in the subject matter of your application. The examiner will thoroughly review your application and decide whether it fulfills the conditions for patentability. In the event that your patent examiner finds any errors or issues with your application, you will be asked to make the necessary corrections in the form of an Office Action.
5. Receive approval
If the patent examiner comes to the conclusion that your creation or invention should receive protection according to the law, you will receive a Notice of Allowance. The notice of allowance will include the relevant issues or publication fees that must be paid in relation to the patent.
6. Maintaining the patent
Receiving a notice of allowance is a crucial and exciting part of the patent process, but it does not mean your work with the USPTO is over. You will be required to pay certain fees in order to maintain your patent. If the fees are not paid in time, the patent may expire/
Patent examiners play an essential role in the patent application process at the USPTO. If you need any assistance in applying for a patent, reach out to one of our top intellectual property attorneys today.