Inventors in Tampa Bay deserve credit for their intellectual property. However, the patent application process is often more complicated than it seems, involving multiple rules, regulations, and deadlines that must be followed carefully. Here are the most critical steps to follow.

Step 1: Begin the patent application process

The first step of the patent application process is the most important. Before anything else, research your invention. Applying for rights when the invention already exists is a waste of both time and money. The best way to research similar inventions is to hire an intellectual property attorney to search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office databases.

If your attorney finds an application for something similar to your invention, the process may stop here. However, if your idea is entirely original compared to anything in the database, you wish to proceed.

Step 2: Determine what kind of patent you are filing

There are three main types of patents:

  • Design: refers to ornamental designs applied to tangible goods;
  • Plant: applies to inventors who discover or invent, as well as asexually reproduce, a new type of plant. This excludes edible tuber reproduced plants, including potatoes; and
  • Utility: the most common type involved in the patent application process. Utility refers to a machine, article of manufacture, useful method, or composition of matter. This format protects the use of your invention and how it works.

Step 3: Decide how you wish to file

Once you decide the type of application to file, the next part of the patent application process is deciding how you want to file. As an inventor, you can either file in the United States electronically or via mail. Most people choose to file online to save time and money. It is important to note that foreign applications involve different offices and requirements than filing just within the United States.

Step 4: Determine what type of utility patent application to file

Since the utility patent application process is the most common, this outlines the method for Tampa Bay applicants going through this process. Your options are split between provisional and nonprovisional:

  • A provisional application is temporary. It lets people follow without an oath, declaration, or formal claim and gives you a priority filing date. Also, it costs less than nonprovisional as a first filing.
  • A request for a nonprovisional application requires a lot more from Tampa Bay inventors. It is more expensive and calls for more formal paperwork. However, this method is how one achieves approval and gains intellectual property rights. The requirements seem simple to follow, but many applications face rejection due to inaccurate descriptions, poor details, or a lack of drawings.

Step 5: Expedited examination: pros and cons

The next part of the patent application process for Tampa Bay residents is to decide whether an expedited examination is the right move. An applicant can request a prioritized examination. One thousand applications are selected each year for this examination, which provides applicants with a decision within twelve months of granting priority status.

An applicant may also apply a petition for an accelerated examination based on certain aspects of their invention.

Step 6: Determine who should file

Regardless of whether or not you chose to expedite your examination, you must determine who files the request. Turning to a Tampa Bay attorney reduces stress and risk of error. While hiring help does bring an added expense, professionals will ultimately save you time and money by solving problems with your application before submission as well as help you understand how to proceed if an error does occur.

Step 7: Prepare for electronic filing

Before filing, whoever is filing must figure out the fees for the patent application process. There are a number of costs associated with submitting an application, including fees for basic filing, searches, and the examination. It is easiest to calculate these fees with the assistance of a Tampa Bay attorney.

Next, apply for a customer number and digital certificate. Once you obtain these, you are ready to apply.

Step 8: Apply for a patent

The recommended method involves using the Electronic Filing System as a registered e-Filer. Otherwise, you will need to send your application by mail or hand-deliver it to the USPTO in Alexandria, Virginia.

Step 9: Pay Your fees

If the USPTO grants you intellectual property rights, you must pay an issue fee.

If you face denial after examination, you can file a request for reconsideration or an appeal. With the acceptance of an appeal, the USPTO notifies inventors, who then pay their publication and issue fees.

Step 10: Keep up with maintenance fees

Once the patent application process is over, it is vital that Tampa Bay inventors keep track of their fees. These fees are due 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years after approval. Without payment, the certification lapses and the rights cannot be enforced.

Contact Larson & Larson to Protect your Intellectual Property in Tampa Bay

The patent application process takes a lot of hard work to complete and submit correctly. Hiring a Tampa Bay attorney provides inventors with peace of mind when they want to protect their intellectual property. At Larson & Larson, we have been assisting residents of Tampa Bay with their intellectual property rights since 1987. We have obtained over 900 U.S. and foreign trademarks. To find out more about the protection of your intellectual property, contact us online or call us at (813) 223-3226.