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Seeking a United States patent can be complex. Understanding the process and the fees before moving forward can help you avoid pitfalls. 

Explore an overview before filing an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 

Determine patentability 

If a printed publication or patent in the U.S. or abroad has already disclosed part of your invention, it is not eligible for patent protection. Searching previous publications, known as prior art, often requires the assistance of an attorney experienced in patent searches. 

Review the fees 

The fee schedule published by the USPTO establishes the filing fees you must include with a patent application. Make sure to review this schedule closely, because fees vary dramatically depending on the type of patent, the number of unique claims in your patent application, the size of your business and other factors. 

File your application 

The application must include these documents in the appropriate order: 

  • Application transmittal form 
  • Fee transmittal form 
  • Application Data Sheet 
  • Specification 
  • Drawings 
  • Executed oath or declaration 

Review the requirements for each section carefully. Applications must meet certain standards for the invention to receive patent consideration from the USPTO. In addition, you must submit either a comprehensive drawing of your invention or a working model. 

Connect with the examiner 

An assigned USPTO patent examiner will review your application and notify you of missing documentation or requirements. If you need to provide additional information, you will have a deadline in which to do so, and you may need to pay a surcharge. 

Once the patent examiner determines that your application is complete, you will receive notification about whether your invention meets patent qualification. If an application receives a rejection, you have the right to appeal. If you receive an approval, USPTO will publish your patent application and you have the legal right to sue anyone who infringes on your patent. 

The USPTO strongly recommends working with a patent agent or attorney to ensure that your invention receives proper legal protection.