It is strongly recommended that you begin your application process with a preliminary search of existing patents. Although the results of this search won't guarantee that your patent request will be successful, the object of a preliminary search is to see if your invention has already been patented before you spend time, money, and effort submitting a patent 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. Your patent application is not automatically put through the examination process; you have to formally request that the Patent Office examine your application, and you must submit the examination fee. The request for examination can be made when you file your application, or anytime within five years of filing.
You may pay fees yearly or for several years at a time. To give you an idea of the time frames involved and the associated fees, there is a fee table included in this guide.
If you are an individual or a small organization of 50 people or less, you can claim small entity status and your fees will be less. Just remember to apply as a small entity.
Patent examiners frequently object to one or more claims of a patent application.