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Patent information: Patenting process

Introduction to patent searching. Basic patent information as well as useful resources are included.

What's in a patent?

A patent document consists of:

Cover Page: Contains information such as the inventor(s), who is the assignee (the owner of a patent), a title, classifications (field of the invention identified by patent examiner or/and author), abstract, filing date etc.


Description: Contains background and a detailed description of the invention. The description contains information such as how the invention is constructed, how it is used, and what benefit it brings compared to existing technology. Based on the description, anyone with average skill of the field should be able to reproduce the invention. 

Claims: This identifies what is legally protected. Information not protected can be used by anyone.

    USPTO and NIST IP Awareness Assessment (Beta Version)

    The IP Assessment includes the below five general categories, that are included in all assessments.

    • IP Strategies & Best Practices
    • International IP Rights
    • IP Asset Tracking
    • Licensing Technology to Others
    • Using Technology of Others

    Patenting Process

    When a decision to file a patent for an invention is made, there are several ways to proceed:

    • National applications (if only a few countries will be covered)
    • File application under EPC, European Patent Convention (European Patent Office)
    • File application under PCT, Patent Co-Operation Treaty (World Intellectual Property Organisation)

    The process differs slightly depending countries' varying patent regulations, but the main steps are:  

    File a patent application—The filing date is significant because the patent will expire generally in 20 years from that date.

    Prepare and review a "search report"—This report, the product of an expert patent search, consists of a list of references to published patent documents and technical journal articles which might affect the patentability of your invention. It enables you to identify and frame needed changes to the claims to obtain the patent.

    Publication—18 months after its filing, the application is published. (A granted patent is always published; it can be published earlier if requested by inventor.)

    Examination—The patent agency examines the application and decides to grant a patent or not. A granted patent is published.

    Validation—Upon entry to a national phase, decide in which countries to seek patent protection. A patent is to be validated in each designated state/country. A translation of the whole patent or just the granted claims is needed.

    Opposition—Unlike with US and PCT systems, in the EPC system, the public has nine months to file notice of opposition after the grant is reported in the European Patent Bulletin.

    For details on patenting process, go to the websites of the major patent agencies: EPO (European Patent Office), WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) and USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).

    USPTO video "Concept to Protection"  is a short video walking you through the steps to protect your ideas.

    WIPO's contact information for Saudi-Arabia

    Major Patent Organizations

    The Patent Librarian Blog

    The Patent Librarian's Notebook: current and past news and information on patents