A U.S. Patent may be granted for any useful, new and non-obvious product or process. Although this appears to be a pretty big hurdle, even improvements to current inventions or technologies may be patentable. In fact, a complex device or method may result in multiple U.S. Patents. A Registered Patent Attorney or a professional patent agency, such as InventHelp, can help you identify the patentable components of your idea or invention.
Types of Patent Applications
Once a patent application is filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the Inventor can mark the invention “patent pending.” The term “patent pending” notifies the public that the Inventor is seeking patent protection on the invention and a patent may soon issue.
The following are the different types of patent applications:
A Provisional Patent Application does not issue as a U.S. Patent itself. However a Provisional Patent Application provides the Inventor a priority date and a 1 year grace period to file a Utility Patent Application and/or a PCT International Patent Application. Although Provisional Patent Applications do not require many of the formalities as a Utility Patent Application (and can therefore be less expensive) a Provisional Patent Application should comply with the written description requirement including best mode. A Provisional Patent Application does not effect the term of a resulting issued U.S. Patent.
A PCT Patent Application is also commonly referred to as an International Patent Application. A PCT Patent Application never issues as a Patent itself. The PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) provides a centralized method for filing a patent application throughout most of the industrialized world (excluding Taiwan). Importantly, the patent application eventually must enter the national stage of each desired country. Currently there are about 181 Member States (countries) that belong to the PCT. You can find more info on this on https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/thoughtster/the-greatest-invention-ideas-that-shaped-the-world/ article too.
A U.S. National Stage Patent Application is a U.S. national patent application that originates from a PCT Application designating the U.S. in the Request. A National Stage application issues as a U.S. Patent.
Information Disclosure Statements
While the patent application is pending, the Inventor has the duty to provide all known references that may affect patentability of the invention to the patent examiner. References are submitted in the form of an Information Disclosure Statement (IDS). Frequently, the results of a patent search are provided as the IDS. The patent examiner considers the IDS during examination. There seems to be a trend when litigating patents to evaluate whether an Inventor fulfilled the duty to disclose appropriate references. Litigators have recently been arguing Inventors conducted fraud to obtain the issued patent.