The Catholic University of America

US Patent Information - Application Procedure

A patent application includes the following items:
  • A descriptive title of the invention,
  • A listing of any prior U.S. patent applications that relate to the present application,
  • A brief description of the background of the invention and the known prior art,
  • A brief description of the essential elements of the invention,
  • A brief description of any drawings filed with the application,
  • A detailed description of how the invention works and how a "person skilled in the art" could make and use the invention,
  • A statement of the inventor's claims as to the novelty of his invention.

Once a complete patent application has been submitted, the examination and evaluation of the application by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office takes approximately nine to fourteen months. If a patent is issued, then the owner of the patent has the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention within the United States. The term of the issued patent is twenty years (20) from the earliest filing date (or seventeen years (17) from the issue date if the earliest filed application was filed before June 8, 1995). For a University, the financial benefits of patenting an invention usually come from licensing agreements with manufacturers or users of the invention. The Manufacturer pays the University royalty fees in exchange for the privilege of using the invention according to the terms of the licensing agreement. The royalties are distributed to the inventor, the colleges of the university, and other areas of the university, and are additionally used to prosecute patent applications.