Filing your application
When you file for a patent, you submit a patent application to the Patent Office. The filing date, which is the date 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 is entitled to that patent. This is one of the reasons why you should not publish or publicly describe your invention before you file for a patent.
Waiting to publish or publicly describe your invention until after you file for a patent prevents others from making use of your work, and minimizes the risk of not being able to get a foreign patent. Most countries require that you file for a patent before disclosing it; Canada is an exception in that you are allowed to file for a Canadian patent within one year of disclosure.
Early filing date
You can choose to obtain an early filing date by filing the following minimum requirements:
- A written statement requesting a patent;
- A document in English or French that describes your invention;
- Your name and address;
- Your patent agent's name and address (if you have a patent agent); and
- The filing fee, and signed small entity declaration (if applicable).
Note: These minimum requirements do not make up a complete application.
The problem with not filing a complete application is that no new subject matter can be added to the application afterwards. Thus you have to balance the need to file promptly with being certain that you have finished developing your invention. Once you have received a filing date, the description may not be amended to add subject matter not reasonably to be inferred from the drawings or the specification as originally filed. In addition, if the Patent Office considers your application does not meet the minimum requirements to obtain a filing date your application will be returned along with the filing fee and will be accompanied by information aimed at assisting you with the filing process, i.e. detailing how to meet the minimum requirements for obtaining a filing date.
If you do not complete the application within the specified time frame, the Commissioner of Patents will send a requisition allowing three months for compliance and payment of a completion fee. If there is no response, then the application will be deemed abandoned.
Statement of legal representative
While not a completion requirement, the statement of legal representative should be included in the petition in order to expedite the processing of your application, and in order to avoid a formal requisition, which could lead to the potential abandonment of your application if not complied with.
Number and filing certificate
At the time of filing, provided you have sent in the required elements and fee, the Office assigns a number to your application and issues a filing certificate. The Patent Office also classifies your application within the appropriate technical field. Eighteen months after the filing date (or priority date) your application is open to inspection by the public and a copy is placed on the Patent Office's databases. Your application must be maintained while it is pending.