What does it mean for a patent application to be allowed?

A patent application will be allowed to issue into as a valid and enforceable U.S. patent after it has been found by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to comply with the statutory requirements for patentability. When an application is apparently ready for allowance, it may be reviewed by an examiner to make certain that the whole application meets all formal and substantive (i.e., statutory) requirements and that the language of the claims is enabled by and finds adequately descriptive support in the application disclosure as originally filed. Neglect to give due attention to these matters may lead to confusion as to the scope of the patent.

Frequently, the invention as originally described and claimed was of much greater scope than that defined in the claims as allowed. Some or much of the subject matter disclosed may be entirely outside the bounds of the claims accepted by the applicant. In such case, the examiner should require the applicant to modify the brief summary of the invention and restrict the descriptive matter so as to be in harmony with the claims. However valuable for reference purposes the examiner may consider the matter which is extraneous to the claimed invention, patents should be confined in their disclosures to the respective inventions patented (see 37 C.F.R. 1.71 and 1.73). Of course, enough background should be included to make the invention clearly understandable.

How do I find out if my patent application has been allowed to issue as a U.S. Patent?

If, on examination, it appears that the applicant is entitled to a patent under the law, a notice of allowance will be sent to the applicant at the correspondence address indicated in 37 C.F.R. 1.33. The notice of allowance shall specify a sum constituting the issue fee which must be paid within three months from the date of mailing of the notice of allowance to avoid abandonment of the application. The sum specified in the notice of allowance may also include the publication fee, in which case the issue fee and publication fee (37 C.F.R. 1.211(e)) must both be paid within three months from the date of mailing of the notice of allowance to avoid abandonment of the application. This three-month period is not extendable.

What happens after my patent application is allowed to issue as a U.S. Patent?

A Notice of Allowance is prepared and mailed, and the mailing date appearing thereon is recorded on the paper or image file wrapper table of contents. If an application is subject to publication, the Notice of Allowance will require both the issue fee and the publication fee. See 37 C.F.R. 1.211(e).

What is the issue fee and when is it due?

The issue fee and any required publication fee are due three months from the date of the Notice of Allowance. The amount of the issue fee and any required publication fee are shown in the Notice of Allowance. The Notice of Allowance will also reflect any issue fee previously paid in the application. The issue fee due does not reflect a credit for any previously paid issue fee in the application. The fee(s) due will be accepted from the applicant, assignee, or a registered attorney or agent, either of record or under 37 C.F.R. 1.34.

What happens after the issue fee has been paid?

Under the current publication process, utility and reissue patents are issued within about four weeks after the issue fee and any required publication fee are received in the Office. A patent number and issue date will be assigned to an application and an Issue Notification will be mailed after the issue fee has been paid and processed by the USPTO. Because the Issue Notification may be mailed less than two weeks before the application is expected to issue as a patent, applicants are advised to file any continuing application before receiving the Issue Notification to avoid loss of copendency.


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United States Patent and Trademark Office, www.uspto.gov