8. What are the Inventor's Chances of Obtaining Patent Protection?
In order for your invention to be patentable, it must be novel, nonobvious, and useful. Generally speaking, a patent practitioner finds that only about fifty percent of inventions appear to be patentable over prior art which he or she uncovers in the typical novelty search. Of these inventions, only about twenty-five percent issue as patents. Therefore, before you do a patent search, think about the fact that you only have about a twelve percent probability
that you will receive a patent, unless you resort to more costly procedures (I discuss these below). On the other hand, the more thoroughly familiar you are with the state of the art in the technical field of your invention, the more likely it is that you will receive a patent (I will discuss this in more detail later).
After an initial review process, if the Patent Office rejects your patent application, you may appeal the rejection to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, or file a continuation or a continuation-in-part ('CIP') application. A continuation application is essentially a refiling of the original application--the Patent Office permits no more than editorial changes. A CIP application is a application that adds new inventive disclosure to the prior-filed application, in order to further distinguish it from the prior art.
The filing of a continuation or a CIP application increases the costs of obtaining a patent. However, these filings also increase the probability that you will receive a patent. The prior art is more clearly defined at this point; for this reason, describing improvements which are novel is much easier with a CIP.
If you are seeking only design patent protection, you will be happy to learn that obtaining a design patent is considerably easier than obtaining a utility patent. Approximately 80% of the design patent applications filed ultimately issue as design patents.
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