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Start with Basics: What a Patent is, What a Patent Application is, and some other facts….

It seems pretty obvious right?  We’re talking about patents, and about you preparing to take an exam that will permit you to practice and represent clients, file patents, things of that nature.

BUT:  Do you know what a patent is?  Do you know what a patent application is?

Let’s start with the Patent:

According to wikipedia: “A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time, in exchange for the public disclosure of the invention.”

So basically, you can think of it as an agreement, or contract, between the inventor (or person who owns/controls the patent) and some governmental body/country, etc.  What this patent (agreement) says is this:  If you, the inventor (or person who owns the patent) agrees to share the information you know, this new, novel discovery, or potential invention, we, the government/country, will protect you and your rights so that no one else can make/use that same invention for a period of time.

It’s a way (ideally) to advance growth, technology, by allowing information to be present and available, but at the same time “protect” the inventor to allow them to well, cash in on their idea/invention.

Got it?

Of course, there are different types of patents…we’ll discuss these differences later.  But for now, that’s the simplified basic understanding.  Keeping this straight and in the back of your mind will help down the road.

Patent Applications

Ok, so in order to receive a patent, you have to file an application for said patent.  That document is called…you got it, a patent application.  There are specific rules and regulations that pertain to a patent application.  However (and the reason we’re talking about it) there are things that SEEM to look like a patent application (because they deal with patents, etc), but are not bona fide, real, patent applications.  Basically, it’s pretty easy to get tripped up into thinking “oh, this is a patent application.”

SO, here’s a list for you.  Memorize it, or know it…it’ll help you as you study, and on exam day!

The Below Are Not Applications

RCE (Request for continued examination)


The Below ARE Applications







  • All the types of applications can be abandoned.
  • So, what does that mean for things that are NOT applications?
    • A reexamination is not an application and cannot be abandoned.
  • Continuing applications can always be filed after an initial application is filed EXCEPT for: provisional applications
    • You cannot file a continuation of a provisional app (why?  Provisional apps are term/limited for 1 year, no changes whatsoever.)
  • So, what does that mean for things that are NOT applications?
    • A Reexamination is not an application, and this you cannot file a continuing applications in reexaminations.


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January 2013
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