Utility Patent Application (US)
FROM $3,995, PLUS GOVERNMENT FEES
Utility patents protect how your invention works--regardless of what it looks like. As a result, a utility patent (which is what most people mean when they are talking about patents) typically offers the strongest protection. If you're thinking about licensing your invention, a utility patent is generally worth more in your negotiations with a potential licensee. That notwithstanding, utility patents are only as strong as the claims at the back of the patent (see the example of a utility patent) and how those claims relate to the prior art. The discussion below further details our philosophy about utility patents and their relative strength when compared to design patents or prior art patents.
Only about half of utility patents that are filed ever become granted patents, simply because utility patent applications are more difficult to get approved through the PTO. It almost always takes some negotiating with the PTO Examiner to get the patent application approved, and that often entails the narrowing of the claims perhaps to the point where the utility patent is easy to get around and of no value in court. However, often a competitor will not want to fight the patent, regardless of how weak it may actually be, and will instead license your patent. Plus, having a patent granted, even if weak, is better than no patent at all.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Utility Patents
|Strongest protection||Expensive... both preparation and filing fees are considerably more expensive than design patents. Further, prosecution costs are considerably higher because responding to office action rejectinos takes time and money to prepare, typically 2 to 3 years after filing.|
|20 year duration (from filing date)||Requires three maintenance fees at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years after issuance.|
|Excellent for protecting how an invention works, regardless of what it looks like||Does not protect the ornamental appearance of the invention|
|Less Expensive drawings ($100/sheet vs. $125 with design patents)||95%+ initial rejection rate at PTO|
See all of the utility patents we've obtained for clients to-date:
All Utility Patent Applications include:
- Full Specification and Claims
- Preparation of up to three formal drawing sheets
- Any application paperwork that is required for filing
- Electronic Filing at the Patent & Trademark Office
To get started, complete the Utility Patent Order Form and return with sketches, patent search results or copies of prior art patents, payment, and any other necessary information. Please note that RUSH utility patents typically take one-weeks to file after payment has been received, but may take longer if there is a waiting list. We will advise you of an anticipated filing date upon receipt of your order.
The claims are the legal portion of the patent, and define the scope of the patent protection. They are often difficult to read, and each claim appears to be a long run-on sentence. It is. Even though a patent may appear to protect a particular product based on the other parts, however, reviewing the claims will let you know what's actually protected. Not all patents are equally strong in their protection. Indeed, many patents are quite weak. For example, if the closest prior art patent claims elements A, B, and C in a device that solves a certain problem, and your idea is comprised only of elements A and B, then you are not infringing that claim (generally speaking).
However, if a prior art patent discloses ABC, then your patent will be "anticipated" by the ABC patent and you'll get what we call a Sec. 102 rejection. If multiple prior art references show, for example, AB and another one shows C, then your patent application will be considered "obvious" by the PTO and you'll get what we call a Sec. 103 rejection. 103 rejections are by far the most common type of rejection and occur 70% to 80% of the time. Only after "fighting" (negotiating) with the PTO Examiner can you overcome such rejections.
Claims work similarly to how prospectors use to claim real estate for, say, a gold mine. They would "stake a claim" for a particular area of land. Similarly, the claims in a utility patent work the same way. As the inventor, you claim a particular area of technology. When the Patent Examiner reviews your claim, he basically does a title search (in the form of a patent search) to see where your nearest neighbors are if your claim crosses any of their property lines. If not, and the claim (in the form of the entire patent application) is otherwise proper, then you're the "first on the hill" and you'll get a strong patent. However, 90+% of the time the Examiner finds neighbors that are closer to your claims than you thought. At this point the Examiner will issue an "Office Action" rejecting your claims, but telling you why so that you can modify your patent application to conform to the boundaries that the Examiner determined were set by your neighbors. Once these boundaries are agreed upon, a patent will issue. However, this process is how patents get "watered down" and become weaker than they were as originally filed. The extent of how strong your patent is when it issues will depend on what the Examiner finds when he does his search. Examiners are not limited to just patents, but can take cite foreign patents as well as articles or just about any other published work... even items found on the public Internet.