US Application Process

Patent systems all over the world are fairly similar, with the exception of the USA. In the USA, the application must always be filed in the name of the inventor, but can be assigned to a company at the time of filing.

As in the UK, a US provisional application can be followed one year later by formal “utility” patent application. For inventions that are likely to have a significant market in the US, it can be useful to file informal applications both in the UK and in the US, claiming priority from both in a formal application. This ensures an early date of conception and “constructive reduction practice” in the USA, considerations which are important should there ever be a dispute as to who invented first and is entitled to a patent.

Another wanted difference with the UK (and indeed every other country) is that the US has a grace period for the filing of an application within one year of the disclosure, publication or sale of a product by the patent applicant. Thus, in the US a patent can be valid even if its invention has been produced and sold in the US, provided that the application is made within one year of the sale.

On application for a US patent, publications (usually patents) liable to be considered ‘prejudicial’ must be disclosed.

On grant of a US application, an issue fee must be paid before the application will be granted. After that, grant renewal fees are paid but at irregular intervals, namely 3 ½, 7 ½, and 11 ½ years from grant.

Typical US Application Costs


Simple Case Typical Case Complex Case
Informal Application £800 £1,500 £3,100
Formal Application £1,700 £3,100 £4,800
Issue Fee £1,200 £1,200 £1,400
Total – incl. Official Fee ex VAT £3,700 £5,800 £9,300