How Long Does the Patent Process Take? Understanding the Timeline to Patent Approval
4 minute read
February 17, 2024


Another common question we’re asked is: How long does the patent process take? 

The short answer: it’s not a set time. 

The path from conceiving an invention to securing a patent can, unfortunately, be long and complex. However, understanding what makes up the timeline for patent approval can speed up this process. 

Knowledge like this sets realistic expectations for our client but also helps in planning the development and launch of the invention. 

A strategic patent application approach can significantly smooth the path to obtaining patent protection. 

Reach your patenting goals sooner with the right knowledge and guidance by your side. 

Schedule your free consultation with one of our patent attorneys today

Patent application filing part I: Initiating the process

The patent timeline begins with the filing of a patent application, either provisional or non-provisional, with, most commonly, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). 

A provisional application secures a filing date but doesn’t start the examination process, whereas a non-provisional application does.

Completeness and accuracy

Ensuring that your application is complete and accurate at filing can prevent delays, including: 

  • A detailed description of the invention
  • Claims
  • Abstract
  • Necessary drawings

Patent application filing part II: Patent office examination

After filing, the application enters a queue for examination. 

The wait time before the initial review can vary significantly, often taking several months to over a year, depending on the patent office’s backlog and the technology field of the invention.

The examiner’s role

A patent examiner reviews the application to assess its novelty, non-obviousness, and usefulness. 

The examination process involves a thorough review of prior art and may require correspondence with the applicant to clarify or adjust claims.

Patent application filing part III: Patent prosecution

Patent prosecution is the term used for the interaction between applicants and the patent office during the examination process—a back-and-forth type of interaction. 

This can involve responding to office actions, which are official communications from the patent office raising objections or requesting clarifications.

Amendments and adjustments

It’s common for applicants to amend claims or make other adjustments to their application in response to office actions. 

This negotiation process is critical for overcoming objections and moving toward approval.

Patent application filing part IV: Grant of patent

Assuming the examination process concludes successfully, the patent is granted. 

This achievement marks the end of a meticulous and often challenging journey, securing the inventor’s rights to their creation.

Rights and protections granted

With the grant of a patent, the inventor gains exclusive rights to the invention, including the right to prevent others from commercially exploiting it without permission for a period, typically 20 years from the filing date.

Two factors influencing the timeline for patent approval

A myriad of factors could affect any governmental process, but these are the two most common:

  1. Complexity of the invention: The more complex an invention, the longer the examination process may take, and technical fields with a high volume of prior art can also extend the timeline due to the detailed examination required.
  2. Patent office workload: The workload and efficiency of the patent office play a significant role—some jurisdictions are known for quicker processing times, while others may have longer waits due to high volumes of applications.

How long does the patent process take?

Understanding the patent process timeline can go a long way in managing your patent approval effectively. 

Inventors should prepare for a journey that requires patience, attention to detail, and proactive engagement with the patent office. 

Get expert patent advice

Avoid backlogs and costly mistakes by getting expert advice from Stanzione & Associates, PLLC

Contact Stanzione & Associates, PLLC today, for a no-obligation consultation.

Share on LinkedIn
Email this Article
Print this Article

More on Blog