Saturday, December 3, 2011

Your Patent Application Was Allowed . . . Now What?

The PTO can be a "black box" at certain stages and after allowance is no exception. Patent owners are confronted by cryptic, mystifying notifications filled with more acronyms than a military base. The time period between allowance and applications is a happy time for patent applicants, but no less confusing.

The PTO web site describes the stages after allowance to issuance which at least helps one understand the acronyms that appear in PTO's PAIR:

  1. When the examiner allows a file it is sent to the Office of Patent Publication Allowed Files area.
  2. The application is then forwarded to Initial Data Capture (IDC) for electronic capture of the patent file.
  3. It takes approximately 6 weeks from the date that the allowed file is received for the completion of the Initial Data Capture of the application.
  4. The application is then sent to the File Maintenance Facility (FMF) for matching of the issue fee and any other correspondence. The application may stay in the FMF for approximately 1-2 weeks. However, if all requirements are not yet fulfilled the application will remain at the FMF until the requirements are met.
  5. Once the fee and any correspondence and/or drawings are matched with the application and all requirements have been met for issuance as a patent, the application is then forwarded to the Final Data Capture (FDC) stage of the process. The FDC makes any updates necessary to the electronic file and places the allowed patent application in an issue. The average time that an allowed application is in the FDC process is 5 weeks. The “Issue Notification” is mailed approximately 3 weeks prior to the issue date of the patent.
  6. The patent grant is mailed on the issue date of the patent. It includes any references to prior patents, the inventor(s)') names, specification, and claims (to name a few). It is bound in an attractive cover and includes a gold seal and red ribbon on the cover.
Note these are PTO estimated times. I have seen patents issue much faster. For example, one recently allowed application is scheduled to issue as a patent less than seven weeks after we paid the issue fee. 

Copyright © 2011 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.