Patent Applications: Overview

The first thing you need to do in order to obtain a patent is to file a patent application. This is a special request that you will have to file with a patent office. The very process of applying for a patent is also called the “patent application”.

Please note that you need to file an application with the right patent office. In this case, “right” means one which has the jurisdiction to grant patents within the geographic area of the patent coverage. In regards to this, there exist three types of applications:

  • National applications: These applications are filed in order to obtain a patent that will be active in the country of this particular office.
  • Regional applications: This application can have effects in several countries. For example, an application filed with the European Patent Office will provide you with a patent that will be active in all or some of the countries of the European Patent Convention. The major benefit of regional applications is that filing one of those saves you from the need to obtain a national patent in each country.
  • International applications under PCT: PCT stands for the Patent Cooperation Treaty that is operated by the World Intellectual Property Organization. The organization itself doesn’t grant patents. However, this system allows you to file a single application that will eventually lead you to obtain patents in some or all of the countries that contract PCT. In this case, the vast majority of the formalities are handled by WIPO. Filing this type of application will significantly cut down your costs if you need to get a patent in many countries.

Patent Application Types

There are several specific types of applications defined by patent offices. Although every office has its own set of names for different applications, all of them can be grouped into the following categories:

  • Standard applications: This application contains all the required parts (claims and written description of the invention).
  • Provisional applications: These applications allow you to secure a filing date. They are cheaper than standard applications and don’t have similar disclosure requirements. A standard application can follow a provisional application if you decide to pursue a patent. If not, the provisional application will simply expire.
  • Continuation applications: These are filed in order to continue previous applications. This option is perfect if your provisional application is about to expire but your project still needs to be refined.
  • Divisional applications: This application is “divided” from the original application. This option is used in case a unity of invention objection is issued.
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