That’s the average time taken to obtain a patent from a patent office.
In this cut-throat world of business, that’s a lot of time. There are a number of factors that affect this time duration. From patentability searching to application drafting, filing, and so on, all of these take up time. The patent process can be an excruciating wait if getting your patent ready will mean immediate business results for you.
Patent offices are looking over thousands of patent applications. Ensuring that each one of them meets all the formal requirements takes a lot of time. There are certain fields where getting a patent in an accelerated manner becomes pivotal to protect their R&D efforts.
A reason why patent applications are not quickly approved is because the examiners want to ensure that they get it right. Any lapse from their part can result in a lot of damages to the business that has filed the patent application.
Why should you speed up the patent process?
When you speed up the patent process, it can immensely benefit your business. Here are some of them:
- Competitive advantage: Having a patent issued in your name offers you a great amount of protection when compared with just saying that your patent is pending.
- Licensing: It can be an additional revenue and a patent awarded to your name will give you immense leverage during discussions on royalty and licensing.
- Enforcement: There is no way to enforce your patent rights against infringers unless you have the patent issued in your name.
- Raising money: When you have a solid patent portfolio to show to your prospective investors, they will be able to trust in your business more. It will help with raising funds for your venture.
Here are a few steps that you can take to speed up the patent process:
#1 Write a clear patent application:
The best way to reduce the chances of any delay in your patent approval process is to be excruciatingly thorough when you draft the application. Do remember that many applications are being handled apart from yours and you need to reduce as much friction as possible for them.
Before you send the patent application, make sure that you do prior art search. The objective of prior art search is to ensure that your invention is new and non-obvious. By doing prior art search, you will be able to identify the closest prior arts, thus helping you define the scope of protection in your claims. It can even reduce your prosecution time as it will require lesser office actions and claim amendments.
When you write the patent application, describe the invention, how it works and what makes it a new invention and so on, in detail. If there is something that makes the invention unique, write about it in detail as well. It is important that you have a clear understanding of what makes your product ‘patent’ worthy.
If you end up receiving a notice asking for more clarification, then ensure that you respond to them immediately without a delay.
#2 Petition to Make Special:
It is possible to request that your application be given special privileges so that it can be expedited. You need to qualify to make your petition special. Here are the categories, the applicant should qualify for at least one of these:
Age: If any of the inventors is 65 or older, you can ask your attorney to get this petition filed.
Illness: If one of the inventor’s health is “such that he or she might not be available to assist in the prosecution of the application if it were to run its normal course,” then you can request for the patent approval process to be expedited.
Invention type: If you want to make the petition special regardless of the age or illness of the inventor, here is the criteria. The patent application that you file should be for an invention that does the following:
- Helps fight terrorism
- Increases the quality of the environment.
- Helps in the conservation of energy resources
#3 Be well prepared:
Once your patent application has been submitted, it may take years before you even get a sly nod from the patent office. You need to keep this in mind when you are about to file the patent application so that you have a strategy in mind to tackle any unforeseen delay. Make sure you are aware of all the examples, technical terms, and how you intend to negotiate your rights with the patent office.
There are six months for you to respond to the patent office before you are supposed to start paying fees. Have your team ready to respond to the questions as soon as there is one. Every single day’s delay will also rack up your fees. It is a lose-lose situation if you are not well prepared.
#4 Communicate with the patent officer:
When it comes to patent applications, it makes sense to communicate directly with the patent officer. Instead of sending emails back and forth, a face-to-face conversation will clear up things faster than you could imagine. Or even a video call would suffice. Instant communications will also help you avoid any misunderstandings.
Even your examiner wants to get done with your patent application because it is his/her job. It is in the interests of both the parties to pick up the phone and have a conversation. When you talk to the patent examiner, hear their side to understand their view of the invention. More often than not, patents are technical, but the examiners need not necessarily be able to understand some of it. Having a one-to-one conversation can help clear the issues that they are facing and it will be easy for you to explain the invention without any jargon.
#5 Original claims should be reasonable and few:
When you file broad patent claims, it is good for your business, but patent examiners prefer if you have claims that are narrow. There are high chances that a broad patent claim will cover more than what was invented, and that is a turn off for patent examiners. Keep in mind that you should make your invention sound novel and the non-obvious features of your technology should be clearly spelt out. This will help immensely with the fast tracking of your application.
There are time constraints under which patent examiners work since there are a lot of patents that they need to pore through. When your claims are narrow, they are more likely to be cleared by the patent office.
Here’s a tip- File narrow claims first so that you can cover the core elements. It will help in getting the patent fast tracked. After this, you can file for continuations so that you can cover every future application of your technology.
#6 Use special programs to fast-track your application:
There are other ways to speed up patent prosecution as well:
- Prioritised Patent Examination Program
- Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH)
The Prioritised Patent Examination Program gives a utility or a plant patent application priority which allows a final deposition within twelve months. It offers special status and has fewer requirements, and it also doesn’t ask for a pre-examination search.
PPH fast tracks the examination of the patent applications in participating countries with claims that have already been allowed by a foreign patent office in a corresponding patent application. When you receive the final ruling from the first patent office where you have filed your patent application, you can ask for a fast-track examination of your claims in the corresponding patent application pending in the other office.
#7 Hire an IP firm:
More often than not, it is best to get the help of experts instead of trying to do it yourself. Get the much-desired clarity by talking to an experienced Intellectual Property firm who will be able to evaluate your unique predicament and you offer the right solution. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to speeding up the patent process which makes it difficult for those who are not privy to the workings of patent offices to do the right thing by themselves.
You have to remember that the patent office and examiners are there to help you. If you follow the seven strategies that we have listed above, you will be able to speed up your patent application. Filing a patent application and getting it approved in a time that you want requires a lot of things to fall in place. Concentrate on things that are in your control and do it in the right way.
ResearchWire is a leading intellectual property consulting company that takes care of all of its client’s IP needs. Our IP experts have immense domain and industry experience, that’s how we have been able to add value to each of our clients. If you are looking to speed up your patent process, we will be more than happy to help you with it and guide you in the right direction. Get in Touch