It's important to go into the patenting process with appropriate expectations. Whether you have an idea for a new consumer product, or want to accelerate growth at your tech startup by improving on current technology, patents serve a range of purposes.
Patents help protect your intellectual property, but are difficult to obtain. The application process can be long - the average time to obtain a US patent is about 2 years.
Why does it take so long?
Patent examiners act as gatekeepers to your patent. They examine your patent application and determine whether the patent should be approved. And they're busy. More than 3 million patent applications were filed worldwide in 2016.
In addition to the sheer volume, their work is complex. They must determine patentability and document appropriate objections, the research for which can be lengthy. Once their initial examination is complete, you may need to take additional steps to prove the patentability of your invention.
While not required, we strongly recommend doing a patentability search prior to filing a patent application. Without a search you could waste time and money on an application that goes nowhere because another person or company has already patented your invention.
A patent search also helps us highlight the differences in the patent application, between your invention and those of others that were found during the search.
Doing a patentability search helps make the application process more efficient, saving you time and money by increasing the chances of getting your idea patented.
Accelerate your patent
There are ways to accelerate your patent application. The simplest is to pay a fee to accelerate examination. This can reduce the time to patent approval to about a year or less, through it does involve extra government fees. There are also particular circumstances when you can petition for a special application, based on age or poor health.