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Patent Application Process
  • Provisional Patent Applications:
    Since June 8, 1995, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has offered inventors the option of filing a provisional patent application which was designed to provide lower-cost patent filing in the United States. Applicants are entitled to claim the benefit of a provisional application in a corresponding non-provisional application filed not later than 12 months after the provisional application filing date. Under the provisions of 35 U.S.C. § 119(e), the corresponding non-provisional application would benefit in three ways:

    • Patentability would be evaluated as though filed on the earlier provisional application filing date

    • The resulting publication of the patent application or issued patent would be treated as a reference under 35 U.S.C. § 102(e) as of the earlier provisional application filing date; and

    • The twenty-year patent term would be measured from the later non-provisional application filing date. Inventors may file U.S. provisional applications regardless of citizenship. Note that provisional applications cannot claim the benefit of a previously filed application, either foreign or domestic. Further information regarding provisional patent applications is available from the USPTO.

  • Non-Provisional Patent Applications:
    According to the law, only the inventor may apply for a patent, with certain exceptions, as explained below. If a person who is not the inventor should apply for a patent, the patent, if it were obtained, would be invalid. The person applying in such a case who falsely states that he/she is the inventor would also be subject to criminal penalties. If the inventor is dead, the application may be made by legal representatives, that is, the administrator or executor of the estate. If the inventor is insane, the application for patent may be made by a guardian. If an inventor refuses to apply for a patent or cannot be found, a joint inventor or, if there is no joint inventor available, a person having a proprietary interest in the invention may apply on behalf of the non-signing inventor.

    If two or more persons make an invention jointly, they may apply for a patent as joint inventors. A person who makes only a financial contribution is not a joint inventor and cannot be joined in the application as an inventor. It is possible to correct an innocent mistake in erroneously omitting an inventor or in erroneously naming a person as an inventor.

    Officers and employees of the United States Patent and Trademark Office are prohibited by law from applying for a patent or acquiring, directly or indirectly, except by inheritance or bequest, any patent or any right or interest in any patent.

    Further information regarding filing non-provisional patent applications is available from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
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