How long is the US patent application process (how much time does it take to get a utility patent)?

How long is the utility patent application process?

The USPTO is notorious for its backlog of examining utility nonprovisional patent applications. First-time utility patent applicants should expect the process to take several years. To the extent that getting a utility patent granted is significant to the growth or success of a business, entrepreneurs should factor this years-long timeline in their business plans. So how long is the patent application process? Let’s take a look at data straight from the USPTO.

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What is the average pendency of US utility nonprovisional patent applications?

As of May 2017 November 2021, the average total pendency of US utility nonprovisional patent applications is roughly 28.6 months. This average length of a nonprovisional application is measured from the filing date of the nonprovisional to the ultimate disposition of the application, e.g., grant or abandonment, including Requests for Continued Examination (RCE).

Excluding RCE’s, the average pendency of a utility nonprovisional patent application to final disposal is approximately 23.4 months. If at least one RCE is filed, then the average total length of a utility patent application is 45.3 months. So filing an RCE adds almost two years to the average timeframe compared to an application without it.

A helpful way to estimate the length of a utility patent is to think in terms of rejections. If your utility patent application can reach an allowance within two substantive Office Actions – i.e., a first non-final and a second final – then the length of your patent application will fall under the shorter average timeframe of approximately 29 months.

If you need to respond to a second Office Action with further amendments and arguments, then an RCE may likely be required. In this situation, your utility patent application will fall under the longer average timeframe of approximately 45 months.

What is the pendency of patent applications with at least 1 RCE?

For applications which include at least one RCE, the pendency of such applications from the filing date to ultimate disposal of the nonprovisional application is 45.3 months. Depending upon the USPTO technology center and art unit, there may be a roughly 40%-70% chance that an RCE will be filed.

How long from RCE to next Office Action?

In 2021, the average amount of time to receive the next Office Action after filing an RCE was approximately 2.2 months.

What is the pendency from application filing date to an appeal decision?

In 2017, the average pendency from the application filing date to a Board decision was 77.6 months. According to the USPTO, the average appeal takes 15 months from the time when the Board receives jurisdiction.

How long does it take to get your first Office Action?

In 2024, the average wait time for the first Office Action, aka Average First Action Pendency, was about 20 months. These average wait times and total times vary depending upon the Technology Center for the particular technical subject matter.

How much time does it take to get a US utility patent?

On average, it takes about 1.5 to 2 years to receive a first Office Action in a nonprovisional utility patent application. Since utility applications are rarely allowed without any rejections (i.e., “first action allowance”), you should expect to receive one to three Office Actions, and possibly more.

If a utility patent application is allowed within two Office Action responses, then the total time from the filing date to issuance may take a little over two years.

If an RCE is filed, however, the total pendency of a utility patent application will be extended to an average of almost 4 years.

What is the average wait time for patent examiner reviews?

As of November 2019 November 2021, the average wait time for a first Office Action is 14.8 17.2 months according to the latest USPTO statistics. Based on their current Forward-Looking First Action Pendency, the USPTO currently estimates that a utility patent application filed today should expect to receive a first Office Action in approximately 16.5 months.

If an RCE has been filed, the average pendency to the next Office Action is 2.2 months (as of November 2021).

If an after-final response is filed without an RCE, the average days to an examiner decision is 19 days.

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