The process to patent an idea involves quite a few orderly steps followed as Patent searching, patent drafting, form preparation, patent filing, examination, hearing and finally grant of the patent followed by yearly renewals.
Let us discuss all these steps one by one in detail.
1. Patent Searching
The very first step that is followed once you are completely ready with your idea/invention is to do patent searching. Patent searching is done to validate the fact that your invention is novel and inventive. Through patent searching, we confirm the fact that the invention involves an inventive step in comparison to prior arts in the same field. Thus, we find out the exact inventive step in the invention.
Through patent searching, we envision the directions in which modifications could be done, which may make our idea patentable if it is cracked in the already available prior arts. Also, patent searching significantly helps patent drafters in the next step of the process to patent an idea i.e. patent drafting. With the help of a patent search report, patent drafters come to know about the exact inventive step of the invention around which they have to maintain the scope of the protection of the invention. Hence, a good patent search report helps in efficient patent claiming.
2. Patent Drafting
The next step is to prepare a patent draft (also known as patent specification). A patent specification is a techno-legal document that is prepared based on a format defined by different patent offices. Generally, a patent specification includes a title, field of invention, background, summary, description of figures, professional figures, description of the invention based on figures, claims and abstract.
The main purpose with which the patent draft is prepared is to enable a person having average skill in the same field to develop the same invention on his own by reading the complete disclosure. The patent draft should be written in the best mode/best exemplary way in which the invention may work.
3. Form Preparation
After Patent drafting, all forms are prepared. The most basic forms that are filed usually for all types of patent filings are Forms 1, 2, 3, 5 and figure sheets. If an inventor or his assignee hires an attorney to file the patent on their behalf, then Form 26 is also filed.
Usually, patent applications are published on completion of 18 months from the filing date. However, if an applicant wants to publish their invention as early as possible, he can file Form 9. By filing Form 9, patent applications can be published within a month.
Indian Patent office provides certain discounts in patent filing to startups, small entities and educational institutions, if they can prove their registration as so through a government certified proof. To apply for patent filings at such discounted rates, there is a need to file Form 28 along with a proof validating the same.
Similarly, there are many other forms, and depending on each particular case, different forms are filed during the whole cycle of a patent application.
It is important to state here that examination of the patent applications is not automatic in India. To get your patent application examined by the Indian patent office, you need to file Form 18 for requesting the Indian Patent Office to examine your patent application. The office actions received from the patent office are normally called a first examination report (FER). Subsequently, if any further office action is received, that is called a second examination report (SER). FER/SER are received within 1-3 years of patent filing.
There is a way to expedite the patent examination process in India if an applicant wishes for the same. Patent examination may be expedited by filing Form 18A, which is called an expedited examination request. This form is applicable only to a few qualifying categories of cases as written in the Indian patent act such as:
- The applicant has chosen India as an International Searching Authority (ISA) or as an International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) in a corresponding PCT application.
- The applicant is a Start-up
- The applicant is a small entity
- The applicant is a female natural person
- The applicant is a government undertaking in case of an Indian applicant, or is a similar entity in case of a foreign applicant
- The applicant is eligible under an arrangement for processing an international application pursuant to an agreement between Indian patent office with another participating patent office.
By applying expedited examination request, FER may be received in 1-3 months, thus expediting the patent examination process.
4. Patent Filing
Finally, all the forms along with patent specification and figure sheets are filed at the patent office, either online or offline and prescribed govt. fee is paid. In case of e-filing, a discount of 10% in the total filing fees is applicable.
5. Patent Examination
All filed patent applications enter into the queue of patents filed at the patent office. As and when the turn of a patent application comes at the patent office, the controller at the patent office assigns the patent application to one of the examiners employed there, who then within a specified duration provides back the examination report. The controller communicates the first examination report (FER) upon considering the findings of the examiner and communicates the same to the applicant.
The deadline within which the applicant is required to respond back to the controller with the response to the examination report is 6 months as per the Indian Patent act, which can be further extended upon making a special and paid request. In order to respond back to the controller’s examination report, the applicant either amends or argues or in rare cases withdraws the patent application. The way in which the applicant or his hired attorney responds back to the examination report depends on the severity of the objections so received and the intent/objective with which the applicant wants to get the patent granted.
Upon invigilating the response to FER and SER (if any), the controller decides to grant or reject a patent, or grant on fulfillment of specified amendments. The final decision to grant a patent is the discretion of the controller only. In case the applicant requests a chance of a hearing in case of a negative decision by the controller, the controller provides the applicant a chance to be heard. The hearing date is fixed usually with a 10 days notice and the applicant or his hired attorney needs to acknowledge his presence in the hearing.
7. Decision on Patent grant
Finally, based on the inferences made by the controller in the hearing, the patent is either granted or refused to be granted. Once the patent is granted, the controller publishes the notice of grant and issues the certificate of grant.
A granted patent needs to be renewed every year starting from the second year to keep it active for the term of the patent application which is 20 years from the date of patent application filing. The renewal fee usually increases after every 4 years.
Want to patent your idea? Want to patent your precious research work/invention which you have envisioned after so many years of hardwork. It is good to take action as early as possible to avoid your novel concept being misused by competitors.
For any help in patent registration or to get more information on patent process, contact here:
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