Getting a Patent isn’t Always the First Step.
When starting out the first things to consider would be the marketability of the product, cost of the manufacture and the technical considerations. If you need help in those areas there’s more information on this site that may help you with those concerns.
Having said that, let’s look at what happens to a typical US patent application, and at what cost and time are involved. Some US applicants will not follow the same course as outlined here. While in Countries outside of the US may have a completely different process.
The First Step in the Patent process: Do a Search (Costs approximately $300-1500; Amount of Time Spent 1-3 Weeks)
The first step to take in the patent process would be the “novelty search”. The search will give you a better idea of what kinds of protections are available. Both the cost and time to conduct the search will vary depending on the invention. The cost of the search should be around 10% of the total cost of patenting the invention. If you know your market well and you believe your competitor may beat you to the patent office maybe it would be best to skip the search. But for the most part this is a very important step.
The Second Step in the Patent Process: Preparing and Filing the Application (Costs Approximately $3000-8000; Amount of Time Spent 1-3 Months)
The second step in the patent process would be preparing the patent application. The time and cost are going to vary and will depend on the invention and if your disclosure materials are up to par. depend on the complexity of the invention and on the quality of the disclosure materials that you’ve put together. When completing your application you should do so carefully to avoid mistakes. Make sure to read over your first draft and make corrections as necessary. Most instances you will go through a few applications before you have a perfected application. Expect to draw pictures of your invention. Adding informal drawings will speed up the application process.
The Third Step in the Patent Process: Plan on a Long Wait (Approximant Time 14-24 Months)
When filing for a patent in the US, plan on waiting 14-24 months for most inventions. Rarely an application will be reviewed within 4 months of filing. The more popular the technology is expecting a longer wait. This really isn’t all that bad, considering if the PTO takes longer than 14 months to send the examiner report, your patent can be extended a day for everyday in which there is a delay.
The Forth Step in the Patent Process: The Examination and Possible Appeal (Costs $400-$1000; Time Table 1-3 Months)
After your long wait a patent examiner will read your application and compare it to what he or she thinks would be the closest prior references. In the US, 95% of these initial examination efforts lead to objections to formal features of the application. This is when you and your attorney or agent will have to come up with a fix to the problem. You will than need to appeal the decision by proving that the examinee came to the wrong conclusion.
This appeal to the examiner will be handled much more quickly than your first application. This part of the process will normally take about 2 months.
The Fifth Step in the Patent Process: Approval (Costs $700-$2000, Time Table 1-3 Months)
At this point 70% of US applications will be allowed. The communication that you will receive from the examiner will either be an acceptance letter or a rejection letter. The good thing at this step is that most applications will be accepted at this time.
What Could Happen During the Fifth Step: Publication
In most cases the patent application will be published within 18 months. If the application was only filed in the US, there may be an exception and be kept secret until the actual patent is issued.
The Final Costs and Time
After the process is completed expect to have spent a total of $5000-$10,000 within a three year period. These are US. Prices, if this were done in another country it may cost much more.