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Patents: U.S. Patent Application and Fees

Guide to searching among United States and foreign patents (prior art) to determine whether an idea can be patented.

Applying for a United States Patent

  • The United States Patent & Trademark Office requires an inventor to apply for a patent within 12 months after an invention is first disclosed to the public. 
  • The inventor may submit either a provisional or a non-provisional patent application.
  • A provisional patent application gives the inventor 12 months to submit a non-provisional, i.e. full, application if that inventor not ready to file one and establishes a filing or priority date for that patent.  An inventor can apply for a United States patent either in paper by mail or electronically.  However, paper filings are much more expensive while electronic filings are processed at a much lower fee schedule.
  • Getting Started With Filing a Patent Application Online
  • Currently an inventor can file his or her patent application via the Electronic Filing System (EFS) and track its status via the Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR).
  • On August 1, 2022 Patent Center is replacing (EFS) and (PAIR) as the patent application filing and tracking platform.  The Patent Center user guide is available online.
  • Beginning January 1, 2023 patent filings not submitted in DOCX format will incur a surcharge of up to $400.

United States Patent Processing Fees

Filing a Provisional Patent Application