Until recently, all patent applications filed in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office were maintained in secrecy until a patent issued. However, recent amendments to the law have changed that. A patent application filed in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after November 29, 2000 will be published about 18 months after its filing date or priority date (for patent applications filed in other countries first), whichever is earlier.

However, the applicant may request that the application not be published if he or she states that no patents will be sought in other countries. If an applicant who requests that an application not be published later decides to seek a patent in another country, the earlier statement to the contrary may be rescinded by communicating that rescission to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

An advantage of publication is that your invention becomes available sooner as prior art against others. A disadvantage of publication is that the invention may be made public before you know whether you will get a patent. There are also provisions for obtaining royalties from those who use the publication to copy the invention before a patent issues.

The publication of a patent application can have a significant impact in another way. Under U.S. law, the publication of an application may become prior art against any later filed patent application. The most common situation in which the publication of an application becomes a concern is when the applicant is working on improvements to the invention that was the subject of the first application as explained on patent my invention through InventHelp article.

If the applicant later wants to file a second application claiming those improvements, the applicant must file within a particular time frame or else the first application will be prior art. The result of this is that if the earlier application becomes prior art, the improvement will have to be patentable over the invention disclosed in the first application.

Issuing a Patent

The final substantive step is to issue the patent application as a United States Patent. If the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is convinced during prosecution that the inventor should be granted a patent, it will send the attorney a “Notice of Allowance and Issue Fee Due”. It is then necessary to pay to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office an issue fee for printing the patent.

The current issue fee and related costs is approximately $2,000.00 for a large company and half that amount for others. All U.S. Patent and Trademark Office fees are set by Congress and consequently can be expected to be increased from year to year. A few months after payment of the issue fee, the inventor will receive the Letters Patent of the United States as you can see from how to patent something with InventHelp post.

Maintenance Fees

After the issuance of the patent, the last step is the payment of maintenance fees. Maintenance fees must be paid to keep the patent enforceable. The approximate current fee schedule for a large company is approximately $1,000.00 before the fourth anniversary of the patent, approximately $2,000.00 before the eighth anniversary and approximately $3,000.00 before the twelfth anniversary of the issuance of the patent. The maintenance fees are half those amounts for small companies and individuals.

Please bear in mind that Congress and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office increase fees essentially annually, so the cost can be expected to rise accordingly.

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