Anyone new to the patent application process may worry about rejection. Patent rejections can happen for a variety of reasons and are at the discretion of the patent examiner. Nearly all patent applications are initially rejected by the patent examiner. New applicants can improve their chances of overcoming such rejections by working with a patent attorney.
While an attorney can’t guarantee approval, they know what the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) looks for. An attorney can make sure the application is properly prepared and fully protects your invention. And, they can help you understand these four common reasons for patent application rejections.
The invention isn’t ‘novel’
“Novel” is the term that the USPTO uses to describe an invention that is new or different from any other prior inventions. When the USPTO determines whether or not an invention is new, it is done with respect to the inventor’s application filing date.
The invention is ‘obvious’
In the patent world, the term obvious is used a bit differently than normal. An invention is deemed “obvious” if it would not be surprising or unique to one having ‘ordinary skill’ in the technology. The patent examiner needs to see some degree of ingenuity to approve an application.
The invention isn’t able to be patented
Some inventions, no matter how novel or non-obvious they are, simply aren’t eligible for a patent. Examples include products of nature, abstract ideas, and methods of doing business. In some cases, an inventor may only need to make slight modifications to make their invention patent-eligible, but a patent attorney can help deal with this issue, either before patent filing or during examination.
The application is incomplete or contains errors
Patent applications have strict guidelines that must be adhered to. No matter how novel or non-obvious an invention is, any errors or missing information could slow down the approval process. Inventors are often eager to submit their patents. In some cases, there may be a race against the clock with a competing inventor. In this rush, it can be easy to make mistakes or send in an incomplete application.
The same goes for the artwork that you must submit along with your application. All drawings must be complete and follow the USPTO’s guidelines.