Patent law is a very interesting area of federal, intellectual property law. Inventors depend upon this system, administered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), to protect their rights in their invention. A relevant topic for the investor is the patent filing date, as this date marks the date from which protections are extended. While the patent filing date may seem like a rather straight-forward concept, it changes depending on the steps or process employed to secure patent rights.
In this article we discuss the various types of patents and the method for determining the patent filing date for utility patents.
Types of Patent
There are three broad categories of patent protection:
- Design Patent
- Plant Patent
- Utility Patent
The design patent is used to protect the ornamental or aesthetic attributes attached to an article of manufacture. The elements of the ornamental design must be novel and non-obvious. A plant patent protects new genetic combinations of asexually produced plants. The third type of patent is a utility patent. This concerns novel, non-obvious, and useful creations. The creations must be some form of material, machine, compound, or article of manufacture.
For more information on the various types of patents, visit the LawTrades blog.
What is a Date Stamp
Regulation 37 C.F.R 1.6 establishes the date of a patent filing application as when the USPTO stamps the patent application as received. This is known as the date stamp. There are numerous exceptions to this rule, including:
Patent Applications arriving on Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holidays are not considered received until the next business day. This includes applications sent by fax. The date for electronic filing is the actual date when submitted, even if submitted on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday.
Patent Applications sent with Priority Mail Express (through the US Postal Service) will be considered stamped on the day of deposit in the mail.
If you have additional questions concerning the date stamp of a patent application, try LawTrade’s free question-and-answer service.
Changing Filing Dates
The patent filing date for any of the three types of patent rights is the day the application is date stamped. One situation in which the filing date changes is when the prosecution of the patents are dismissed or require re-filing. In this case, the patent application date will be the date on which the subsequent filing is made. This is not the case for amendments made in the course of the filing process.
Another situation affecting the filing date concerns utility patents. A utility patent application may be provisional application or non-provisional. The provisional application sets a filing date. As long as the non-provision patent is filed (or the provisional patent amended to be a non-provisional patent) the original filing date of the provisional patent becomes the filing date of the non-provisional patent.
For purposes of length of patent protection, it is preferable to file a new non-provisional application that references the provisional application. Simply amending the provisional patent application means the 20-year protection period begins to run from the date the provisional patent was filed, rather than the date of the subsequent non-provisional patent filing. In either case, however, the filing date is considered to be the original date on which the patent application was stamped by the USPTO.
LawTrades Knows Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual property law is perhaps one of the most demanding and difficult areas of law to navigate. Patent law, in particular, requires an extraordinary understanding of what constitutes patentable subject-matter and the base understanding of a person having ordinary skills in the art that is the subject matter of the patent. If you are considering filing a patent application, don’t risk the repercussions of making a mistake in filing. Your patent rights may depend upon getting your patent application filed in a correct and timely manner. The legal experts at LawTrades can help you with every step of the process. They can advise you on preparing for the patent application, or prepare the patent application for you.