Filing: applicants choose a submission category – i.e., national, regional or international – and file an application. The initial filing is considered the “priority filing” from which further successive national, regional or international filings may be made within the ‘priority period’ of one year, in accordance with the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.
Formal examination: the patent office ensures that all administrative formalities have been met, that the relevant documentation has been included in the application, and that all associated fees have been paid.
Prior art search: in many countries the patent office carries out a search of the prior art – all relevant technological information publicly known at the time of filing the application. Using extensive databases and expert examiners in the specific technical field of the application, a ‘search report’ is drafted that compares the technical merits of the claimed invention with that of the known prior art.
Publication: in most countries, the patent application is published 18 months after the priority date; i.e., after the date of first filing.
Substantive examination: if a prior art search report is available, the examiner checks that the application satisfies the requirements of patentability – that the invention is novel, inventive and susceptible to industrial application, compared to the prior art as listed in the search report.
Grant/refusal: the examiner may either grant the patent application without amendments, change the scope of the claims to reflect the known prior art, or reject the application.
Opposition: many patent offices allow third parties to oppose the granted patent within a specified period on the grounds that it does not satisfy patentability requirements.
Appeal: many offices provide the opportunity for an appeal after the substantive examination or after the opposition procedure. Read more