How can one check the status of a U.S. patent application? Well, that depends on whether the patent application has been published or not. In the simplest case, U.S. patent applications are published 18 months after filing. The 18 month timeframe may be shorter if the patent application validly claims priority to the filing date of an earlier application (e.g. a parent application). In that case, the application is said to have a priority date as of the filing date of the parent application. Then publication is 18 months from the priority date.
For checking the status of a U.S. patent application, the simplest case is where the patent application has already been published. A patent application’s status is available on the website of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s website – uspto.gov. The USPTO website offers a page called Public PAIR which allows the general public to view the status of a published application. But how does one locate status of a published application on Public PAIR? The answer is that you can search for the status with either the application serial number or the publication number of the published patent application. What if one does not have the application serial number or the publication number. Then a search is needed.
There are a number of variables on searching for a published patent application, but for simplicity, let us assume that one has at least one inventor’s name. The USPTO website is a place to conduct a search for the published application. Once the published application is found, it will have both its application serial number and its publication number. How may one conduct the search? One can start with the main page of the USPTO website and follow the links to search for a patent publication. There are several choices, including basic search, advanced search, and publication number search. For simplicity, basic search allows one to enter two search terms. This form may be used to search for inventor’s by name. A search query may generate a few or many possibilities, which must be reviewed until the desired published patent application is identified. If a basic search generates too many possibilities, an advanced search may be required to narrow the search, but advanced search is beyond the scope of this blog post.
Once the correct published application is identified, one can obtain the application serial number or the publication number and use either to perform a search for the status of the published application on Public PAIR. Upon entering either the application serial number or the publication number in Public PAIR, one will be taken to a web page with that application’s data and status. There is a status line which indicates a status. This status could indicate if the application is abandoned, is awaiting action, has an office action pending, is allowed, or other status. A tab called “Image File Wrapper” can be selected to view or download every document filed in the application. There is also a tab called “Continuity Data” to view the status of related applications.
What about patent applications that have not been published? Well, one possibility is that the application will be published but was just recently filed. So the above procedures could be employed every month or two to eventually learn the applications’ status when it is published.
However, it is possible that the patent applicant filed a valid request for non-publication when the application was filed. In that case, it may be necessary to search for the issued patent until the patent issues, if that ever happens.