Obtaining a utility patent can be a lengthy and costly process. The utility patent procedure is riddled with stumbling blocks that might make you feel dejected. Expect to wait a long time for results. Without sugarcoating the difficult process of acquiring utility patents, let’s look at some actual tactics for getting a patent approved faster.
The First Office Action Pendency is the interval between the filing date of your application and the examiner’s first substantive assessment of your application. According to USPTO statistics, the average waiting period is 15.5 months (as of the date of this post). Due to the backlog of patent applications in particular technologies, certain examiner groups, known as art units, may take much longer. See my article on how to expedite your patent application to get ahead of the pack.
What are some patent tactics for reducing the time between filing and the first review by an examiner?
Keep in mind that queue-jumping tactics may or may not lower the frequency of patent examiner rejection letters, also known as Office Actions. So, while it may assist to minimize the First Office Action Pendency by many months, dealing with Office Action rejections may necessitate alternative techniques.
What patent tactics are available to reduce the number of patent Office Actions?
It’s fair to assume that at least one Office Action will be issued for around 90% of utility patent applications. Rather than attempting to be among the 10% of cases that obtain a first action allowance, it may be smarter to concentrate on how to deal with the inevitable Office Actions.
Conducting due diligence before to applying is one technique. You may look up patents on Google. If you don’t locate a close match, a professional patentability search might be used to determine what is previously known in the prior art. Knowing this information before filing helps your patent attorney to develop independent claims that are in better shape from the start. At the very least, you will not begin with independent claims that cover past art that you are already familiar with. This pre-filing method may not prevent you from an Office Action, but it can help the Examiner do a more targeted prior art search, which can lead to a more effective answer.
A conversation with the Examiner frequently achieves more than a written answer. Your patent attorney may be able to read the Examiner’s tone for any confusion or resistance, and gauge their reaction to proposed claim amendments. Even if the interview does not result in an allowance (which is unusual), you will at least have a better understanding of what will and will not work with this Examiner.
That is why the First Action Interview programme is one of my favorites. A constructive discussion with the Examiner earlier in the process can save a lot of time. Your patent attorney can also address how suggested revisions cover aspects not present in the stated prior art, in addition to clearing up any ambiguities. This discussion can take place before the Examiner issues the first Office Action, thanks to the FAI programme. Furthermore, before the interview, you get a sneak glance of the preceding art discovered by the Examiner. This allows your patent attorney to make even more progress by planning ahead of time for the Examiner interview.
How can you acquire a utility patent faster if you still want more claims?
In a perfect world, the Examiner would approve your utility application with the widest claims you feel are justified in light of the previous art. Not only do we live in a less-than-ideal environment, but the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may make you believe that worst-case situations are the norm. So, if and when you receive confirmation that some claims are allowable, I recommend pursuing the patent on the allowable subject matter.
You can submit a child application to pursue larger claims instead of fighting for them in the ongoing (parent) case. Your patent application will not be delayed in this manner.