Patent Application Types

The Technology Commercialization Office (TCO) helps inventors at the George Washington University through the various applications needed to receive a patent. To protect your invention, it is important to involve TCO as early in the process as you can. 

While TCO will need a clear description of your invention and ongoing input from inventors, we strive to make the patent application process as simple as possible for our inventors. We are here to to assist inventors at every step. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides an additional resource for information on the types of patent applications.

The first type of patent application TCO files is the provisional patent application, which should be filed when an inventor first conceives of an invention. This patent should include a description of the invention and can be produced from manuscripts and poster presentations. Inventors should first come to TCO, so we can manage the process. The provisional patent is a placeholder patent and is quick and easy to file.

Your provisional patent application will last for a period of 12 months. During this time, it is important to update TCO on any new updates to your invention, including publications or new data. Be aware that you must either file a patent corporation treaty (PCT) application or a non-provisional patent application within this year or else we will lose the ability to receive patent rights for your invention.

To preserve international rights, a provisional patent application must be filed before any public disclosure. Rights in the United States may still be available if a provisional patent application is filed within one year after a public disclosure.

A PCT application is a placeholder for international patent applications. For patent rights in countries other than the United States, the first patent application for the invention must be filed before any public disclosure. We must file a PCT application within the year that the provisional patent application is valid to benefit from the date of the provisional application filing. When we file the PCT application, we must include specifications, a list of prior arts (related patents and literature) and claims. This language will typically require a more extensive drafting effort by patent lawyers, which TCO manages. 

About six months (18 months if no provisional application was filed) after filing the PCT application, the PCT application will be published and the TCO will receive an International Search Report with a preliminary examination of patentability. Be aware that a non-provisional application for any country that patent rights are desired should be filed within 18 months (30 months if a provisional patent application was not filed) of filing your PCT application. TCO generally files non-provisional applications only in the United States, unless foreign filings are requested and paid for by licensees. 

Non-provisional patent applications must be filed in each country where patent rights are desired, and each country's patent office performs their own examinations to determine patentability. When TCO files, we must include specifications of your invention, a list of "prior art" (related patents and literature) and claims. This application typically involves an extensive drafting effort by the patent lawyers, which TCO manages. 

While this application is being considered by a patent office, TCO must respond to any office actions from patent examiners. TCO and our patent lawyers will likely require inventors' input during this process. If there are any updates to your invention, such as publications, new data or improvements, you should send them TCO promptly. 

A non-provisional United States (U.S.) patent application must be filed no more than one year after any public disclosure and within one year of filing a provisional patent application (unless a PCT application was filed). For rights in foreign countries, a non-provisional or PCT application must be filed before any public disclosure.

About six months (18 months if no provisional application was filed) after filing a non-provisional U.S. application, the application will be published. It generally takes about two to four years before the U.S. patent office will begin examining the application.