After you have put in the considerable time and effort needed to develop an invention, you file a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and wait. And wait some more.
The USPTO says the average wait for patent approval is 22.9 months, or just a little less than two years.
Waiting that long is, for some people and some businesses, not a terrible inconvenience. For example, the inventor of the beerbrella – an umbrella for a bottle of beer – was an intellectual property attorney who put his creation through the patent process so that he could use documents and drawings to explain the paperwork and process to clients.
He never intended to market the beerbrella.
But for many other inventors and businesses, the two-year wait is a waste of time and money.
There are several ways to reduce your wait time by as much as half. Let’s look at three methods of speeding up patent applications.
This is the USPTO’s Prioritized Patent Examination Program. Applicants pay a Track One premium that ranges from $1,000 to $4,000 (depending on the size of the applicant’s business). The premium allows you to jump the line – much as the TSA’s PreCheck program enables you to saunter past the security lines at the airport – and get your application examined ahead of applicants who filed earlier than you.
The USPTO says it strives to get Track One examinations completed within 12 months.
Meet and greet
Most communications between applicants and USPTO examiners are in the written word – an often, slow and inefficient way to make your thoughts clear. But the patent office allows applicants to speak with examiners in person, by phone or in a video conference. An interview allows an applicant to explain and clarify nuanced aspects of the patent application that can be cumbersome to describe in writing.
Rolling down the highway
The USPTO says its Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) “speeds up the examination process for corresponding applications filed in participating intellectual property offices.” With PPH, the patent office fast-tracks applications that have already been approved by a foreign patent office. Of course, the USPTO still makes its own evaluation of your application, but PPH can offer better approval results than the conventional process.
Foreign patent offices eligible for PPH review include Canada, Europe, the UK, Japan and others. Bilicki Law assists people with patent applications so you can move the process along or if you need help deciding which path is best for you.