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Post-Application Procedures: What to Expect After Filing for a Patent

Congratulations, you’ve just filed your patent application and you’re now on the road to potentially protecting your groundbreaking ideas and inventions. But what comes next? The post-application process can be just as important and complicated as the patent application itself, and understanding what to expect will be crucial. Here’s a brief guide to what you should anticipate after hitting ‘submit’ on your patent application.

Patent Pending

When you submit a patent application, your invention is said to be patent pending. But what does this mean, practically speaking? Being patent pending can be a valuable marketing tool, showing that you have an innovation in the works. However, it does not grant you any enforceable rights yet. It serves as a placeholder, reserving your place in line for the examination process that’s to come.

Patent Search and Examination

Once your application is on file, it will be assigned to a patent examiner. The examiner will search for prior art — any evidence that your invention is already known. This is a critical step because to be granted a patent, your invention must be novel and non-obvious.

It’s worth noting that the examination process can be quite lengthy, often taking upwards of 18 months to even begin, particularly for complex or cutting-edge technologies. During this time, you may be required to clarify or amend your application to distinguish your invention from any prior art that’s discovered.

Responses to Office Actions

After examination, you may receive an Office Action, which is the examiner’s initial determination. This will outline any rejections that have been made and provide the reasons for them. You’ll have the opportunity to respond to these rejections and argue against them, or to amend your claims or specification to address the examiner’s concerns.

The back-and-forth of Office Actions can continue for several rounds, and effective communication and negotiation skills can be crucial during this phase. Patience is also a virtue, as the process will likely add months to your wait time before getting to the finish line.

Publications and Provisional Rights

To proceed to the next stage, your patent application will be published 18 months after your filing date. This publication is typically the first public disclosure of your invention, and it will allow you to pursue provisional rights. While these provisional rights do not protect your invention, they can provide some remedies for ongoing infringement if your patent is eventually granted.

The Road to a Patent Grant

With persistent effort and perhaps a few revisions, you may eventually receive a Notice of Allowance, which means your patent will be granted once certain administrative processes are complete. You’ll pay an issue fee and, upon payment, your patent will be granted and published, affording you the full protection of a U.S. patent, including damages for past infringement.

The patent application process is far from over once you’ve filed. It’s an iterative and nuanced process that calls for attention to detail, strategic planning, and a willingness to engage with patent examiners throughout the process. While it can be arduous, the potential rewards in terms of securing your intellectual property can be immense.


The post-application procedures of the patent process are as much a test of your patience as they are an opportunity to refine and assert the strength of your invention. Understanding the timeline, the various communications you’ll receive, and the potential outcomes will equip you to traverse this part of the patent landscape with confidence. Remember to stay informed, to maintain clear and open lines of communication with your patent attorney or agent, and to be ready for a process that rewards those who can see it through to the end. Your innovation could change the world, and a patiently pursued patent could be the key to unlocking its full potential.