Patent Application Process

Patent Search Recommended Before Filing

Before applying for a patent, it is recommended that an inventor know as much as possible about what has previously been invented ("prior art"). If your invention is shown in a prior U.S. or foreign patent, or other printed publication or patent disclosure, it could affect whether you will get a patent. Similarly, if someone skilled in the field would consider the invention obvious in view of what's already known, a patent would not be obtainable.

Benefits of a Patent Search

Learning about what has already been patented will help you make an educated decision about whether to apply for a patent. It will also help in preparing the patent application. An inventor has a duty to disclose the "prior art" to the Patent Office in an Information Disclosure Statement (IDS). Also, knowing what has been patented before your invention will help to distinguish your invention from the "prior art" in the IDS, and in the text and drawings of your patent application.

Patent Search by Litman Law

For information about having Litman Law conduct your patent search, see Patent Search by Litman Law.

Based on the search, we will quote a fixed fee to prepare the patent application for filing. Depending upon the type of application, complexity of the invention and how close it is to the prior art, the typical application preparation fee will range from $2500.00 for a basic design application to 2-5 times that amount or more for a complicated chemical or electronic invention. The quotation will include the preparation of the technical specification, claims, drawings, IDS, and all the other paperwork needed to get "patent pending" status. Upon receipt of the search, you can decide whether you want to proceed further with a patent application.

Patent Pending

You will obtain "patent pending" status for your invention by filing plant, utility and/or design patent applications. When a patent application is filed with the government, the applicant can use the phrase "patent pending" or "patent applied for" in connection with the marketing of the invention. It does not mean that the inventor can take action if someone makes, uses or sells the invention. But, generally, with "patent pending" status, you can begin marketing an invention without the risk of losing your rights from public exposure.

Provisional Utility Application

The initial utility patent application can be a provisional application (useful to obtain "patent pending" for one year on ideas during final stages of development, capital raising or test marketing), a non-provisional application, or an application for international protection.

Government Review

A non-provisional patent application has to be filed, reviewed by a Patent Examiner and allowed before it is issued. It typically takes one to three years for this process, depending upon what the invention is, what type of application is filed, and the back-and-forth process with the Examiner. There are additional costs associated with the review, issuance and publication of applications. Also, there is no guarantee that a patent will be issued.

Rights Can Be Enforced When Patent is Issued

Only when a patent is issued can rights be enforced. Utility patents are published 18 months from the initial filing date, and provisional rights can date back to this publication date if the issued claims are the same as the claims that were published.

Once a patent is obtained, an invention may not be lawfully manufactured, duplicated, used or sold without the inventor’s consent. A patent can be sold outright, or it can be licensed to a company in exchange for royalties. You can also use the patent to maintain yourself as the exclusive source of the invention.


To receive free information on patents or if you have any questions, contact us via our secure Contact Form. If you would like us to conduct a patent search for you, please submit your request via our secure Patent Search Request Form.