How your patent application is processed (Page 2 of 5)

Filing your application

When you file for a patent, you give a patent application to the Patent Office. The filing date, which is the date when the Patent Office receives your application, is a key date in the application process (see about priority dates).

The filing date is important because the first person to file a patent for an invention gets to own that patent.

Why you need to worry about public disclosure

You should not go public in any way with your invention before you file for a patent. This is because when you wait to go public, you prevent others from using your invention.

There is another important reason. Canada lets you go public with your invention as long as you file a patent application within 12 months of doing so. But most other countries have much stricter rules; they require that you file for a patent before you make it public. So, if you publish your invention or tell other people about it, there is a chance that you will not be able to get a foreign patent.

Obtain an early filing date

You may choose to get an early filing date. To do so, you must give the Patent Office the following:

  1. A written statement requesting a patent
  2. A document in English or French that describes your invention
  3. Your name and address
  4. Your patent agent's name and address (if you have a patent agent)
  5. The filing fee, and signed small entity declaration (if this applies to your situation)

Please note that these five requirements do not make up a complete patent application.

Make sure your application is complete before you file

When you are eager to protect your invention with a patent, you may be tempted to file an application quickly and without finishing it properly. The problem with not filing a complete application is that you cannot add new subject matter to the application afterwards.

You have to balance the need to file quickly with being certain that you have finished developing your invention. Once you have received a filing date, you may not change the description of your invention or add subject matter that is not closely connected to your original drawings or the description part of your application.

If the Patent Office decides that your application does not meet the minimum requirements for getting a filing date, we will return your application to you along with the filing fee. When the Patent Office sends your returned application, we will also send more information to help you with the filing process, (i.e., detailing how to meet the minimum requirements for getting a filing date).

If you do not finish the application within the specified time frame, the Commissioner of Patents will send you a notice (called a requisition) saying you have three months to complete the work and send us a completion fee. If the Commissioner does not hear from you, we will consider your application abandoned.

Include a statement of legal representative

Although you are not required to do this, you should include your statement of legal representative in your petition. This makes sure your application moves along well in the process and helps make sure that you will not get a notice (requisition) from the Commissioner of Patents, which could lead to your patent being abandoned (as we describe in the paragraph just above).

Getting your filing number and certificate

When you file your application, provided you have sent the right documents and fee, the Patent Office gives your application a number and also gives you a filing certificate. The Patent Office classifies your application within the proper technical field. Eighteen months after the filing date (or the priority date), your application is open to the public and the Patent Office puts a copy on its databases. You must be careful about maintaining your application while it is pending.

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