How long does it take to get a patent? | Time required for patent review process
How long does it take for patent approval or denial decisions to be rendered by the U.S. patent office?

A long time.  "You have to be in good health to be in the patent process.  You can get old." Patent time length. (Eric Teng, inventor of the Garlic Twist quoted in Thuy-Doan Le, “Entrepreneurial spirit starts to pay off for Sacramento, Calif.-area inventor,” The Sacramento Bee, December 12, 2004)  Take a look at the successful outcome and read customer reviews of inventor Eric Teng's Garlic Twist invention. 

A short time.  Products are counterfeited in only weeks or months after they are released.  "It's hard to get patents granted everywhere in the world quickly enough because the pace of copying is so fast. We have counterfeit products in weeks or months after some products are released,"  (Jonathan Paul Meyer, senior vice president for IP law at Motorola quoted by Sue Marek, “Healing the Patent Process”, Wireless Week, August, 15, 2005).

5 to 8 years (from 2009).  Estimated time projected to get an idea patented based on current U.S. Patent Office backlog and current economic slump.  “Patented inventions can ignite the economy by creating demand for products and jobs. However, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has very little manpower to examine up to 400,000 applications a year. To stay afloat they rely on [revenues from patent application fees paid by inventors] like George Huggins, who has waited for five years on patents for his trailer alarm system and tailgate loading ramp.  ‘I'd like to get my patents before I die," Huggins says. "Everybody says 'how old are you?' I say 'I'm over 80 fellas. I'm a World War Two vet, and I think the government owes me, at least, to get me my patents before I die.’  So how long does it take to get an idea patented?  ‘We're telling people anywhere from five to eight years,’ says Douglas Sorocco, a patent attorney with Dunlap Codding.” Patent time length. (Ed Doney, “Inventor frustrated with U.S. patent backlog,” KFOR News Channel 4, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 6:20 PM CDT, August 19, 2009)  Express your opinion at Inventor Opinion Polls or at Inventors Elect.

5 or 6 years (60 - 72 months).  Example reported of a patent application that took 5 or 6 years to be approved.  “The fastest patent [Bob DeMatteis, author of "From Patent to Profit] has gotten came within a year, and the longest took five or six years.” How long does it take to get a patent approved?  (Bob DeMatteis, author of From Patent to Profit quoted in Thuy-Doan Le, “Entrepreneurial spirit starts to pay off for Sacramento, Calif.-area inventor,” The Sacramento Bee, December 12, 2004)   Read customer reviews of From Patent to Profit.  Order author Bob DeMatteis' books about invention success stories and the "how to invent process."

3 ½ years.  Number of years it took for Facebook to receive its social media “news feed” patent.  “Back in August 2006, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and a handful of employees submitted paperwork to patent the social network's "news feed," the system of displaying the stream of links, photos and status updates that have become an addictive daily staple for millions of people.  Last week, they got their patent. . . . I'm going to focus on the 31/2 years it took for this puppy [the Facebook patent] to grind its way through the [patent office] approval process.  That extended review time is a disaster for Facebook, for its competitors, for innovation and for the economy. Unfortunately, it reflects the general dysfunction of our patent system, which takes an average of three years to bless a patent.  But don't take my word for how bad things are. Listen to David Kappos, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  ‘It is indeed a broken agency,’ Kappos said. ‘We are trying to work our way through a broken system.’”  Take a look at the original Facebook patent.   (Chris O'Brien, Mercury News Columnist, 415-298-0207,  “How Obama's team hopes to fix patent office,” Silicon Valley Mercury News, updated March 3, 2010)

40 months (3.3 years).  Average time it takes for the patent office to review a patent.  “[The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office] says it plans to fast-track 3,000 already-filed [greentech] patent applications...  The program aims to reduce the review time for a patent—currently 40 months, on average—by about one year.” (Sara Stroud, “Greentech patents put on the fast track,” Sustainable Industries, Washington, DC, December 29, 2009)

3 or 4 years (36 - 48 months).  Length of time it takes for the U.S. patent office to review biotechnology and software design patent applications.  “It takes most patent applications between two and three years to get reviewed. In some of the high-volume areas, like software design or biotechnology, it may be more than two years before the process is even begun, dragging the review process out to three or four years.” How long to get a patent application approved? (Michelle Cater Rash, “Restructuring raises patent fees, could hinder startups,” Business Journal Serving the Greater Triad Area, April 11, 2005)

3 years plus (36 months plus).  Number of years it takes the USPTO to make a decision to approve or deny a patent application.  “The most pressing matter [for the U.S. Patent Office and its new Director David Kappos, formerly of IBM) is the length of time it takes the agency to approve -- or deny -- a patent application. It takes more than three years in many cases to get a final answer.  ‘Imagine in the commercial world any service provider where if you sent the service provider money and a request for service and they said, 'Thanks, we'll get back to you in three years.' You'd say that's insane, unacceptable,’ Kappos said in a recent interview.  Beyond the lag time, observers agree that the agency is in dire need of modernization and a morale boost. The economic downturn also means fewer inventors and corporations are paying patent application fees, which is the agency's only funding source.” (Ed O'Keefe, “New boss moves quickly to change sluggish Patent Office,”Washington Post, Tuesday, October 20, 2009)

3 years plus (36 months plus).  U.S. Patent Office backlog in processing patent applications.  “But patent applications are backlogged more than three years, and Congress again delayed legislation designed to break the logjam at the U.S. Patent Trademark Office (PTO).” U.S. patent office backlog." How long does the patent review process take?  (Sean Meyers, “Hiring an IP lawyer is more complex than one thinks,” New Mexico Business Weekly, February 23, 2007)

Why does it take so long for a patent decision?   See what experienced inventors and wisepreneurs say about patent office problems.

How long do patents last?  How long is the patent protection periodHow long are patents good for?  

2 ½ years (30 months).  Amount of time an inventor has to file patents individually and with foreign countries once they have filed a PCT.  “If you intend to market globally, you’ll need to file a PCT, a patent cooperative treaty, which will give you up to 30 months to file individually with other foreign countries.” Patent processing time.  Why does it take so long for patent office decisions?  (Robb Sexton, inventor of flat wiring, senior vice president of Southwire and president of the FlatWire Technologies Division quoted in Laura Raines, “So you want to be an inventor?,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sunday, April 12, 2009)

2 years 3 months (27 Months).  The average waiting period for a patent application decision.  “The wait for a [patent application] decision is on average 27 months — and much longer for complex applications in advanced sciences.”  Average length of time it takes to receive a patent. (“The Cost of Ideas: Intellectual," The Economist, November 13, 2004)

25 to 45 months.  The average range of pendency for a patent application for 2005.  “In fiscal 2005, the average pendency of a patent application ranged from 25 months to 45 months depending upon the technology.’ (Michael T. Siekman, counsel with the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and Interference practice groups of Wolf Greenfield, a Boston-based IP law firm, “Accelerated patent process may be too good to be true,” Boston Business Journal, November 24, 2006)

2 to 3 years.  Time it takes for an invention to receive a patent.  “Long waiting times at the U.S. Patent Office. From the time an application is filed, it takes two to three years for an invention to receive a patent -- enough time for some high-tech ideas to become obsolete. Hyper-aggressive companies that sic their lawyers on inventors or weaker firms just to bury them financially -- regardless of whether there's a valid complaint.” How long does it take for patent approval? (Akweli Parker, “Inventor's reality,” Philadelphia Inquirer, (Philadelphia, PA), March 23, 2006)

24 months.  Average time it takes for the patent office to process a patent application.  “There are a lot of ideas out there, enough to overwhelm the staff of the Patent and Trademark Office, which is working to keep its promise to cut down on the length of time it takes to process a patent application, now about 24 months on average.”  Patent review process.  Time for patent approval.  (Ira Flatow, “Analysis: Inventors, inventing and the process of obtaining patents,” Talk of the Nation, Science Friday, NPR, January 4, 2002)  Discover many fascinating inventing books by Ira Flatow.

22 months.  Average length of time it takes to get a patent.  “How long does it usually take to get a patent?  At this time it takes an average of 22 months.”  How long does it take to get a patent approved? (Office of Public Affairs, “Kid’s Pages, Kid’s Primer - Frequently Asked Questions,” U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, retrieved Wednesday, June 24, 2009)

18 to 24 months.  Period of time it usually takes for patents to be approved.  “[Patent attorney Laura Zeman of Snell & Wilmer] says patents usually are approved within 18 to 24 months, and Nelson's [biotechnology patent] probably took so long because the research was ahead of its time and government examiners didn't understand it.” (Angela Gonzales, “Companies overcome hurdles to protect intellectual property,” The Business Journal of Phoenix, March 10, 2006)

18 months to 2 years.  Length of time patent examination process can take.  "The examination process can take from 18 months to two years. Inventors can use the phrase 'patent pending' to indicate they have begun the patenting process. However, the advisory does not provide you with the same protection as a patent."  How long does it take for a patent? (Williams-Harold, Bevolyn, “You've got it made! (developing invention ideas),” Black Enterprise, June 1, 1999)


Up to 18 months.  Amount of time it takes for patents to be issued.   “Visit the patent officer in charge of your case. Patents take up to 18 months to be issued, and the U.S. Patent Office rejects about 90% of applications.” What is the fastest or shortest time it takes to get a patent?  (Tomima Edmark, Dallas inventor of the "The TopsyTail, Patent No. 5,036,870.” quoted in Rusty Cawley, “Patent Protection,” Dallas Business Journal, June 12, 1998)

12 months.  Approximate number of months USPTO patent review period will be shortened for fast-tracked greentech patent applications.  “Several thousand greentech innovators awaiting patents for their technologies may have their wait time shortened, thanks to a federal pilot program announced in December 2009 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  The agency says it plans to fast-track 3,000 already-filed patent applications in one of four areas: environmental quality, energy conservation, renewable energy development or greenhouse gas emission reductions.  The program aims to reduce the review time for a patent—currently 40 months, on average—by about one year. Earlier patenting would give recipients a leg up in securing funding, creating businesses and bringing new technologies into use, according to the patent office.” (Sara Stroud, “Greentech patents put on the fast track,” Sustainable Industries, Washington, DC, December 29, 2009)

How long does a patent last?  What is the length of time a patent can be held? What is the patent time limitHow long is patent duration?

Rapid patent approval is not necessarily a good thing.  “Beware of an IP [intellectual property attorney] sales pitch that goes something like this:  ‘My last application sailed on through the patent office. They accepted it just as I wrote it.’  If you're the owner of the patent, that should set off alarm bells.  A patent might move quickly through the approval process to the delight of the business client, but a few years down the road prove worthless in court.  The true test of a patent is when it comes to litigation.”

Jim Gale, state bar committee chairman, Intellectual Property Owners Association
Quoted in Sean Meyers, “Hiring an IP lawyer is more complex than one thinks,”
New Mexico Business Weekly, February 23, 2007)

20 hours.  Estimated amount of time it takes for an experienced patent attorney to complete a patent application for a simple invention.  “[Francisco Rubio-Campos, founding partner at Eclipse Group, an intellectual property law firm in Los Angeles] estimates that an application for a simple invention can take an experienced attorney 20 hours to write. The hourly rate is $250 to $400 or more for many Los Angeles-area [intellectual property] attorneys.”  (Cyndia Zwahlen, “Long Road to a Patent Can Pay Off in Profits,” Los Angeles Times, April 19, 2006).  

Discover more revealing information about filling out and filing patent applications.