Short Answer: On average, 6-24 months. We advise planning for the longer duration, as the average pendency of a patent application is 22.8 months.
“Pendency” is the average number of months from the patent application filing date to the date it is issued (or abandoned).
Most patent applications undergo at least one revision to address a patent examiner’s review. These reviews arrive in the form of Office Actions, which are documents written by a patent examiner in the course of examination. The Office action may cite prior art and gives reasons for allowance or rejection of one or more of your claims.
According to the USPTO, the current duration from filing to first office action is 17 months. As of this writing, 625,168 patents are unexamined.
Could I Speed Up the Process?
Under certain circumstances, an inventor may request that the examination process be expedited. This would shorten the pendency to roughly 12 months from the date of granted prioritized status.
The special circumstances for expedited examination are:
– The invention is deemed of peculiar importance to some branch of the public service. In particular, the invention would have to:
- Enhance the quality of the environment;
- Contribute to the development or conservation of energy resources; or
- Contribute to countering terrorism.
In such cases, the head of a U.S. Government department would have to make the request.
Making this request requires a petition and fees starting at $1,000 for micro-entitities. (For more fees, see this link.)
It also requires certain conditions be met in the application.
Other Special Circumstances for Expedited Examination:
- You are age 65 or over. This does not require a fee, but it does require a petition.
- The state of health of at least one named inventor is such that they might not be available to assist in the prosecution of the application if it were to run its normal course. In other words, you or another named inventor expects to leave this world before examination is expected to be completed. This request would require a doctor’s certificate or other medical certificate. See link above.
How can I check on my application status?
If you are working with a patent practitioner, they will check the Private PAIR, which is a docket of their managed applications.
PAIR stands for Patent Application Information Retrieval System. PAIR has a private site and a public site. A pro-se inventor may check their status on the Public PAIR once the application is published.
To use the Public PAIR, see the Patent Electronic Business Center (EBC) website, or call the Inventors Assistance Center (IAC).
Almost every event of a patent application costs money. There is a USPTO fee and a professional fee. We’ll cover fees in a future blog post.
For more information about the patent process, see
- The USPTO’s Patent Process Overview
- Patent FAQs
- Current Fees
Our step-by-step guide to writing a provisional patent application
Videos from the USPTO:
Roadmap to Filing a Patent Application
The Process of Patent Application Examination at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
Filing a provisional application