Codes used by the US Patent office

Letter Codes for US Patents

Letter Codes for US Patents & Published Patent Applications

Commencing on January 1, 2002, letter Codes were added to United States Patents.

In 2002, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) began publishing Patent Applications that included letter Codes.

Some of the Letter Codes Used by the USPTO

Letter Code                    Document Type

A                                      Utility Patent Grant issued prior to January 2, 2001

A1                                    Utility Patent Application published on or after January 2, 2001

A2                                   Second or subsequent publication of a Utility Patent Application

A9                                   Correction published Utility Patent Application

Bn                                   Reexamination Certificate issued prior to January 2, 2001

B1                                   Utility Patent Grant without pre-grant publication issued on or after January 2, 2001

B2                                   Utility Patent Grant with pre-grant publication issued on or after January 2, 2001

Cn                                   Reexamination Certificate issued on or after January 2, 2001

E                                      Reissue Patent

S                                      Design Patent

If your company needs assistance with its intellectual properties, contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

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Claim terms in Patent documents

Patent Application Words Meaning

The Broadest Reasonable Interpretation

The words (or terms) used to outline and describe the claims of your patent application may be interpreted differently by different people. How is this resolved by the USPTO?

During USPTO examination, the Patent Application words (meaning of the claims term) must be “given their broadest reasonable interpretation consistent with the specification,” as per Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1316, 75 USPQ2d 1321, 1329 (Fed. Cir. 2005).

The broadest reasonable construction of the claims is determined “in light of the specification as it would be interpreted by one of ordinary skill in the art.” In re Am. Acad. of Sci. Tech. Ctr., 367 F.3d 1359, 1364 (Fed. Cir. 2004).

According to the USPTO Manual of Patent Examining Procedure, “The broadest reasonable interpretation does not mean the broadest possible interpretation. Rather, the meaning given to a claim term must be consistent with the ordinary and customary meaning of the term (unless the term has been given a special definition in the specification), and must be consistent with the use of the claim term in the specification and drawings. Further, the broadest reasonable interpretation of the claims must be consistent with the interpretation that those skilled in the art would reach.”

The Patent Application in Plain Words

Under a broadest reasonable interpretation (BRI), words of the claim must be given their plain meaning, unless such meaning is inconsistent with the specification. The plain meaning of a term means the ordinary and customary meaning given to the term by those of ordinary skill in the art at the relevant time.

“The Greatest clarity is obtained when the specification serves as a glossary for the claim terms”

The ordinary and customary meaning of a term may be evidenced by a variety of sources, including the words of the claims themselves, the specification, drawings, and prior art. However, the best source for determining the meaning of a claim term is the specification – the greatest clarity is obtained when the specification serves as a glossary for the claim terms. The words of the claim must be given their plain meaning unless the plain meaning is inconsistent with the specification. In re Zletz, 893 F.2d 319, 321, 13 USPQ2d 1320, 1322 (Fed. Cir. 1989).

“[T]he ordinary and customary meaning of a claim term is the meaning that the term would have to a person of ordinary skill in the art in question at the time of the invention, i.e., as of the effective filing date of the patent application.” Phillips v. AWH Corp.

The USPTO Manual of Patent Examining Procedure, in part, reads, “The ordinary and customary meaning of a term may be evidenced by a variety of sources, including the words of the claims themselves, the specification, drawings, and prior art. However, the best source for determining the meaning of a claim term is the specification – the greatest clarity is obtained when the specification serves as a glossary for the claim terms.”

Patent Application Words Meaning – Explicit Definition

Where an explicit definition is provided by the applicant for a term, that definition will control interpretation of the term as it is used in the claim, as per Toro Co. v. White Consolidated Industries Inc., 199 F.3d 1295, 1301, 53 USPQ2d 1065, 1069 (Fed. Cir. 1999)

Ask Us Anything… about Intellectual Property!

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Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.  If you need assistance, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

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Christmas Patent Products

Patents for Christmas Inventions

Do Investors Get Patents for Christmas Inventions?

Yes, many inventors receive patents for Christmas inventions!

In 2023, US Christmas sales are anticipated to exceed 950 billion dollars. Christmas inventions are a portion of this market. Some inventors hope to seize a portion of those sales.

Examples of Christmas Themed Inventions

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Patent drawings for patent application and replacement drawings after notice of allowance

Replacement Drawings After a Notice of Allowance?

Can the USPTO Require Replacement Drawings?

YES.

Some Applicants for US Patents represent themselves and, on occasion, the pro se Applicant successfully argues to the Examiner that the Application’s claims are patentable.

Other Applicants are represented by patent professionals and (due to various national and international deadlines) a complete but not pristine Patent Application that obtains a filing date is filed in the USPTO.

For some Patent Applications, Examiners issue a Notice of Allowance where the Issue Fee must be paid by a specified date. After the Examiner’s issues the Notice of Allowance, the Application is transferred to the Publications Branch of the USPTO. It is here that a replacement drawing may be required.

Code of Federal Regulations for Utility Patent Application Drawings

37 Code Federal Regulations 1.84 (a) (1), in part, reads, “37 C.F.R. 1.84 Standards for drawings.  (1) Black ink.  Black and white drawings are normally required. India ink, or its equivalent that secures solid black lines, must be used for drawings”.

After receiving the allowed Patent Application from the Examiner, the Publications Branch can require correction of a part of the Application, such as the Drawings. For instance, when Applicants have not filed the required black and white line drawings in the as-filed Application, but rather used photographs or non-line computer generated images to obtain a filing date.

Most of the time, the drawings are replaced before the Notice of Allowance is granted. However, occasionally, the black and white line drawings are required after the Notice of Allowance and before the grant of the Patent.

Patent drawings for replacement drawings after notice of allowance

Replacement Drawings for Utility Patent Applications

A part of the Notice for Corrected Application Papers looks something like the example below.

Notice to File Corrected Application Papers for Patent

In the Notice to File Correction Application Papers, the Publication Branch of the USPTO requires replacement black and white line drawings before the Patent Application will be granted. One or more as-filed figures need to be replaced by black and white line drawings.

To properly respond to the Notice to File Correction Application Papers – Drawings, the Applicant must file the required black and white line drawings within the allotted time identified on the Notice to File Correction Application Papers.

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Abandoned Patent Application

Is An Abandoned Patent Application Public?

How Does a Patent Application Become Abandoned?

An abandoned Patent Application occurs when the Applicant does not meet United States Patent Office’s (USPTO) requirements in responding to the USPTO.

Are They Public Record?

Does an abandoned US Patent become public record when it is abandoned?  It depends!  For national security reasons, some Patents are kept top secret.

With the exception of top secret Patents, when a US Patent is granted the contents of the granted Patent’s USPTO file wrapper become public record.

As a general rule:

  1. When a US Patent Application is abandoned, the USPTO file wrapper for the US Patent Application does not become public record.
  2. A US Provisional Patent Application does not become public record.

Existing Patent Applications Available to the Public Include:

  • Published Patent Applications
  • Reissue Patent Applications
  • Documents that were sealed as a condition of filing the Patent Application
  • Arbitration records associated with a Patent Trademark Trial and Appeal Board proceeding
  • All documents and evidence entered in a US Patent’s Reexamination Proceedings’ records

Abandoned Patent Applications Available to the Public

  • Unpublished abandoned applications (including provisional applications) that are identified or relied upon
  • Unpublished pending applications (including provisional applications) whose benefit is claimed
  • Unpublished pending applications (including provisional applications) that are incorporated by reference or otherwise identified

USPTO Legal Authority Regarding Public Records of Patent Applications

37 Code of Federal Regulations Section 1.11

37 Code of Federal Regulations Section 1.14

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Restriction Requirement for Patents

Restriction Requirement

What Our Company Did

We are a start-up existing on a shoe string budget.

An inventor not associated with our company invented a product.  Because our company expected the product would improve our bottom line, we opted to take a license from the inventor to make and sell the product.

Apparently, to save legal fees, the inventor opted to represent himself before the USPTO. Unfortunately, about two years after filing the Patent Application, the inventor received a Restriction Requirement from the USPTO.

What do we do now?

What is a Restriction Requirement?

Title 35 United States Code 121 – Restriction Requirement

35 U.S.C. 121 reads:

“If two or more independent and distinct inventions are claimed in one application, the Director may require the application to be restricted to one of the inventions. If the other invention is made the subject of a divisional application which complies with the requirements of section 120 it shall be entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the original application. A patent issuing on an application with respect to which a requirement for restriction under this section has been made, or on an application filed as a result of such a requirement, shall not be used as a reference either in the Patent and Trademark Office or in the courts against a divisional application or against the original application or any patent issued on either of them, if the divisional application is filed before the issuance of the patent on the other application. The validity of a patent shall not be questioned for failure of the Director to require the application to be restricted to one invention.”

35 U.S.C. 121 prevents a tribunal from using the first Application and/or first Patent from which the second Application was divided from being used to reject the claims of the second Application and/or subsequent second Patent.

Restriction Requirement – How The Inventor Can Respond

In the Restriction Requirement, the Examiner will argue something like, “The species are independent or distinct because as disclosed the different species have mutually exclusive characteristics for each identified species.  In addition, these species are not obvious variants of each other based on the current record.”  Generally, the Examiner will suggest groupings of claims from which the Applicant can select a single group of claims for first examination.

An Applicant has an opportunity to argue against the Restriction Requirement by stating that the species are patentably indistinct.  However, this can be a risky strategy.  Such an admission can be used to reject the second species of claims as obvious in view of the first species of claims and other prior art.  In other words, the claims can be rejected as obvious pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 103.

The Better Strategy When Responding to a Restriction Requirement

When the Examiner argues for a Restriction Requirement, the Applicant can elect an invention for first prosecution.

In most instances, the better strategy for the Applicant is to elect one of the Examiner’s groupings claims for first prosecution. During prosecution, the scope of the claims can be expanded by amendment. Frequently, after the examination of the first grouping of claims, Applicant’s will file a Divisional Application including additional claims related to the invention.

Responding to a Restriction Requirement can be tricky. If you need assistance responding to a Restriction Requirement, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

Ask Us Anything… about Intellectual Property!

If you or your business are located in the greater Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Lexington, or Louisville standard metropolitan statistical areas and have a topic or question you would like Business Patent Law, PLLC to address in the blog, please send us an email.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.  If you need assistance, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

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Patent rights transfer around the world - Patent Rights

Patent Assignments

What are Patent Assignments?

What is a patent assignment? In general, a Patent Assignment transfers ownership of the entire patent right, title, and interest owned by one party to a second party.

Patent Assignments are a type of contract between the Assignor (current holder) of Patent rights and the Assignee (new owner) of Patent rights. Recording an executed Assignment in the Patent Offices gives notice of the change in the Patent owner.

Recording ownership of a Patent is similar to recording a deed for real property — like your house. The recording of the deed to your house gives notice of your current ownership and specifies the location of that home in the State. Recording a Patent Assignment gives notice of ownership and the location of your intangible Patent rights.

National and Regional Patent Offices

The European Patent Office is a regional Patent Office and the Japanese and United States Patent Offices are national Patent Offices.

Each national or regional jurisdiction has specific formats and rules associated with recording the ownership of Patent rights. European, Japanese, and United States Patent Offices have required wording and procedures for recording an Assignment in the European, Japanese, or United States Patent Office.

  • For an English language Assignment of Patent Rights, the Japanese Patent Office will accept a Japanese/English bilingual Assignment to record.
  • The European Patent Office will accept an English, French, or German language Assignment. After the European Patent is granted, assignments of the Validations of the European Patent are required in most member states’ Patent Offices where the current owner asserts the European Patent’s rights.
  • The USPTO accepts English language Assignments. (Non-English Assignments must be translated/transliterated into English.)

Patent Applications

Assignments of Patent Applications can also be recorded in Patent Offices. Each jurisdiction will have different rules for recording ownership of Patent Applications. In the United States, when the US Patent Application issues as a US Patent, the ownership of the Patent Application applies to the US Patent until the ownership is assigned to another person/entity.

35 United States Code (U.S.C) 261 Ownership; assignment, reads:

“Subject to the provisions of this title, patents shall have the attributes of personal property. The Patent and Trademark Office shall maintain a register of interests in patents and applications for patents and shall record any document related thereto upon request, and may require a fee therefor.

Applications for patent, patents, or any interest therein, shall be assignable in law by an instrument in writing. The applicant, patentee, or his assigns or legal representatives may in like manner grant and convey an exclusive right under his application for patent, or patents, to the whole or any specified part of the United States.

A certificate of acknowledgment under the hand and official seal of a person authorized to administer oaths within the United States, or, in a foreign country, of a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States or an officer authorized to administer oaths whose authority is proved by a certificate of a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States, or apostille of an official designated by a foreign country which, by treaty or convention, accords like effect to apostilles of designated officials in the United States, shall be prima facie evidence of the execution of an assignment, grant, or conveyance of a patent or application for patent.

An interest that constitutes an assignment, grant, or conveyance shall be void as against any subsequent purchaser or mortgagee for valuable consideration, without notice, unless it is recorded in the Patent and Trademark Office within three months from its date or prior to the date of such subsequent purchase or mortgage.”

For Assignments of US Patents and US Patent Applications – because of 35 U.S.C. (U.S.C) 261, Business Patent Law, PLLC advises its clients:

  • In the United States to execute Assignments of Patents or Patent Applications before a notary public.
  • In a jurisdiction other than the United States, to execute the Assignments before the appropriate apostille.

Assignments can become complicated. If your company needs assistance with its Patent Assignments, please contact BPL.

Are you or your business located in the greater Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Lexington, or Louisville areas? Do you have a topic or question you would like us to address in the blog? Please send us an email!

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.  If you need assistance, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

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The Hague

The European Patent

How to Get a European Patent

Can you get a European Patent on a product designed in the United States? Yes. Can Business Patent Law assist you with that patent application? Absolutely! Here are a few things you need to know about overseas patent applications, to better understand the process.

European Patent Applications

  • Applicants can file European Patent Applications (EPA) via the European Patent Convention.
  • Applicants can file EPAs via the Patent Cooperation Treaty.

Locations of the European Patent Office (EPO) for filing EPAs

  • Munich Germany is the principal office of the EPO. Other EPO offices are in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague, and Vienna.
  • Your EPA can be filed at any location of the EPO.

Professionals (Licensed by the EPO) Represent BPL’s Clients before the EPO

  • Business Patent Law (BPL) has foreign associates around the globe ready to represent BPL’s clients before various foreign Patent Offices.
  • In Europe, BPL has associate European Patent Attorneys licensed by the EPO to represent clients before the EPO.
  • BPL works closely with European associates to monitor and assist with the evolution of the EPA toward the grant of the European Patent(s).

Following Examination EPAs are Denied or Granted

  • After examination by the Examination Division of the EPO; if the Examination Division concludes that the EPA is patentable, the post-examination EPA is published.
  • On the date of publication of the post-examination EPA, the European Patent is granted.
  • The European Patent is a “bundle” of individual member states’ National Patents.

Validation of the European Patent (EP) Required in each Designated Member State

  • After the grant of the European Patent, it must be validated in the designated member states.
  • Among other things, validation requires payment of designated member state’s fees and providing translations or transliterations of the Patent if that state does not accept the validation in one of the three official languages of the EPO.

Official Languages of the EPO

  • English
  • French
  • German

Oppositions Against the Granted EP

For a period of nine months subsequent to the grant of the Patent, a third party can institute an Opposition Proceeding against the EP.  In Opposition Proceedings, filed before the Oppositions Division of the EPO, third parties argue against the patentability of the granted EP.

Member Nations of the EPO – 2022

Member Nation                                                                         EPO Member Since

AL Albania 1 May 2010
AT Austria 1 May 1979
BE Belgium 7 October 1977
BG Bulgaria 1 July 2002
CH Switzerland 7 October 1977
CY Cyprus 1 April 1998
CZ Czech Republic 1 July 2002
DE Germany 7 October 1977
DK Denmark 1 January 1990
EE Estonia 1 July 2002
ES Spain 1 October 1986
FI Finland 1 March 1996
FR France 7 October 1977
GB United Kingdom 7 October 1977
GR Greece 1 October 1986
HR Croatia 1 January 2008
HU Hungary 1 January 2003
IE Ireland 1 August 1992
IS Iceland 1 November 2004
IT Italy 1 December 1978
LI Liechtenstein 1 April 1980
LT Lithuania 1 December 2004
LU Luxembourg 7 October 1977
LV Latvia 1 July 2005
MC Monaco 1 December 1991
MK North Macedonia 1 January 2009
MT Malta 1 March 2007
NL Netherlands 7 October 1977
NO Norway 1 January 2008
PL Poland 1 March 2004
PT Portugal 1 January 1992
RO Romania 1 March 2003
RS Serbia 1 October 2010
SE Sweden 1 May 1978
SI Slovenia 1 December 2002
SK Slovakia 1 July 2002
SM San Marino 1 July 2009
TR Turkey 1 November 2000

Need a European Patent?

If your company needs assistance with European or other foreign jurisdictions’ Patent Applications, we can help.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.  If you need assistance, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

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capital gains on patents

Capital Gains – Intellectual Properties  

Capital Gains May Be Available For The Transfer Of Intellectual Property Rights

A capital gains tax rate for the transfer of Intellectual Property is available if the transfer of Intellectual Property rights is carefully planned.

Patent Rights are not Accorded Capital Gains Status – Unless…

26 I.R.C. 1221 – Capital Asset, in part, reads:

(a)    In General

For purposes of this subtitle, the term “capital asset” means property held by the taxpayer (whether or not connected with his trade or business), but does not include –

(3) a patent, invention, model or design (whether or not patented), a secret formula or process, a copyright, a literary, a musical/artistic composition, a letter or memorandum, or similar property, held by—

                    (A)    a taxpayer whose personal efforts created such property,

                    (B)    in the case of a letter, memorandum, or similar property, a taxpayer for whom such property was prepared or produced, or

                    (C)    a taxpayer in whose hands the basis of such property is determined, for purposes of determining gain from a sale or exchange, in whole or part by reference to the basis of such property in the hands of a taxpayer described in subparagraph (A) or (B)

Situation 1 – Patent Capital Asset

Joe was the founder of his company JoeCo. Over the years, Joe was the inventor of several Patents for the products sold by JoeCo. After 40 years in business, Joe was seeking buyers for JoeCo. AcquireCo purchased JoeCo and all assets and liabilities.

Joe can treat this transfer of Patent rights as a capital asset because the U.S. Internal Revenue code also includes 26 I.R.C. 1235. When specific facts exist, the inventor’s Patents are capital assets taxed as capital gains.

26 I.R.C. 1235 – Sale or Exchange of Patent, in part, reads:

(a)    General    A transfer (other than by gift, inheritance, or devise) of property consisting of all substantial rights to a patent, or an undivided interest therein which includes a part of all such rights, by any holder shall be considered the sale or exchange of a capital asset held for more than 1 year, regardless of whether or not payments in consideration of such transfer are—

                     (1)     payable periodically over a period generally coterminous with the transferee’s use of the patent, or

                     (2)    contingent on the productivity, use, or disposition of the property transferred.

(b)    “Holder” defined For purposes of this section, the term “holder” means—

                    (1)     any individual whose efforts created such property, or

                    (2)    any other individual who has acquired his interest in such property in exchange for consideration in money or money’s worth paid to such creator prior to actual reduction to practice of the invention covered by the patent, if such individual is neither—

                    (A)    the employer of such creator, nor

                    (B)    related to such creator (within the meaning of subsection (c)).

Situation 2 – Intellectual Property Gains

Jill was a seamstress with talent for making and selling clothing designs that generated a comfortable living for her family. Jill was a sole proprietor and over the years received two Trademark Registrations for Jill’sThings®. After 40 years, Jill sold her business to AcquiringJack, LLC with a knack for scaling small businesses. 26 I.R.C. 1221 does not prevent Jill’sThings® from being classified as capital assets. Therefore, the sale of Jill’sThings® would be treated as capital gains.

Situation 3 – Patent Capital Asset

AcquiringJack, LLC purchased all rights associated with two JoeCo Patents previously sold to a third party. AcquiringJack LLC held the JoeCo Patents for 18 months and sold the JoeCo Patents to LastMinuteCharlie, Inc. AcquiringJack, LLC’s sale of the JoeCo Patents will be treated as capital gains.

Situation 4 – No Capital Gains

Second Fiddle was an individual who was a skilled guitarist and sufficiently talented to write original music. Over the years, Second Fiddle had received Copyright Registrations for some of his musical compositions. While on a regional tour with his band, the Fiddlers, a vice president of Big Break Inc. made Second Fiddle an offer he could not turn down for his Copyright Registrations.  Second Fiddle sold his Copyright Registrations to Big Break Inc. According to 26 I.R.C. 1221, a Copyright or musical score held by the creator is not a capital asset. Second Fiddle’s sale was taxed as ordinary income.

Situation 5 – Intellectual Property Capital Gains

Philharmonic Violin was an individual who played third violin with the orchestra. Although not as musically skilled as some other violinists in the orchestra, Philharmonic Violin wrote a few concertos and was granted some Copyrights for her efforts. Philharmonic Violin assigned her Copyrights to her company, Concertos LLC. On her lucky day, Philharmonic Violin arrived early for practice and was playing some of the supporting violin portions of her concertos. Big Director, the CEO of his production company, heard the portions of Philharmonic Violin’s concertos and told Philharmonic Violin that they were perfect for the score of one of his films. On that day, Big Director wrote a check payable to Concertos LLC. Because Concertos LLC rather than Philharmonic Violin received the payment, the payment will be taxed as a capital asset.

Business Patent Law, PLLC does not provide tax counsel. The above situations are only illustrative. Changes in the facts of a taxable situation can generate different applications of Title 26 Internal Revenue Code. Advance planning for taxable situations can reduce the amount of taxes paid. For tax advice, please contact your tax advisor.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.  If you need assistance, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

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Do a Claims Check on Your Patent

Claims Checks Are Important  

Claims Checks

Doing claims checks of  your Patents are essential because they define the scope and boundaries of the Patent.

Claims are Legal Boundaries

As previously indicated in this Blog on Patent Infringement: “A deed for real property determines the real property’s boundary and what constitutes a trespass. In a similar vein, Patent claims define the intellectual property boundary of the Patent and what establishes an infringement.”

The Situation

Approximately five years ago, our company filed three Patent Applications for three separate products that our company continues to market and sell to our national and international customers.

Our attorneys and the USPTO examiners had several rounds of arguments regarding the patentability of claims of our three Patent Applications. Over this timespan, some of the as-filed claims of the three Patent Applications were amended, canceled and/or re-amended by our attorneys. Before the end of the patenting process, our attorneys also added some new claims not previously set forth in the as-filed claims. Even the examiners made some examiners’ amendments to the claims.

After all the arguments, the USPTO issued Notice of Allowances. We paid the Issue Fees and we eventually received the three granted Patents.

The claims of two of the Patent we received were perfect. However, the claims checks revealed that about half of the claims of the third Patent were incorrect.

What should we do?

Actions: When a Claims Check Reveals Errors

  • Although not recommended, a few Patent owners do not attempt to correct the incorrect claims.
  • Review the USPTO file wrapper and your files to determine where and when the claims errors occurred. If the errors were caused by the USPTO, the USPTO requires no additional fees to correct the incorrect claims. If the errors were caused by the Applicant(s), the USPTO requires the payment of a government fee to correct the errors.
  • Sometimes, other parts of a Patent contain errors that need correction.
  • Submit a Certificate of Correction (PDF) to the USPTO.

Claims can be considered the heart and soul of the Patent, so it’s essential that yours be correct.

Need More Information?

If you have a question about Claims checks, please get in touch with Business Patent Law, PLLC.

Have another topic or question you would like Business Patent Law, PLLC to address in the blog? Please send us an email!

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.  If you need assistance, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

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