USPTO answers questions from Individual Inventors.

The USPTO has released the transcripts of its most recent inventor chat.  In the chat session, the PTO gathers several of its patent procedure experts and answers questions that are posted in an on-line forum.  Here are excerpts of several interesting question/answer series.

Inventor: When a patent is accepted by the patent office for reexam, how long does it take to finish and or what is the full time process window?

USPTO Expert: All re-exams are handled with special dispatch, i.e. the examiner takes them out-of turn. It is difficult to put a time frame on it, since it depending on the complexity of the prosecution and the number of actions. We are not familiar with the term, “full time process window.”  Hope this answers your question.

Inventor: I am having trouble finding answers to my questions on the USPTO’s website. I find it a little perplexing. Perhaps I need an “Idiot’s guide to the USPTO.

USPTO Expert: You should contact the Inventors Assistance Center and speak to one of the representatives there for answers to specific questions. Contact them at 1-800-786-9199.

Inventor: What is the average time between paying issue fee and being published?

USPTO Expert: The average time is 3-4 months.

Inventor: If I file a design patent application, do I place “patent pending” or design patent pending on the product? Also, is shading still necessary on design patents?

USPTO Expert: Once a design patent application is filed with the USPTO “patent pending” may be included on the commercial product in which the design is embodied. Also, while surface shading is no longer required by 37 CFR 1.152, applicants are encouraged to include surface shading on the claimed design shown in the drawing so as to clearly understand its shape and contour.

Inventor: Does the 20-year clock on patent duration begins at the priority date?

USPTO Expert: The twenty year patent term is not measured from the filing date of a provisional application. See 35 U.S.C. 154(a)(3) which states that “[p]riority under section 119, 365(a), or 365(b) of this title shall not be taken into account in determining the term of a patent.” The basis for relying upon a provisional application in a subsequently filed non-provisional application is 35 U.S.C. 119(e), which is specifically excluded in calculating the patent term under 35 U.S.C. 154(a)(3).

For all utility and plant applications filed on or after June 8, 1995, the twenty year term is measured from the filing date of the non-provisional application. If the non-provisional application claims benefit under 35 U.S.C. 102, 121 or 365(c) to an earlier filed application, then the twenty year patent term is measured from the earliest effective U.S. filing date for which benefit is claimed.