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Reasons a Patent May Be Denied 

Law Office of Julie Scott LLC Oct. 27, 2022

Documents for Registration of A Patent for An InventionIn almost every sector of the business and creative world, there are reasons why you’d want to pursue a patent to protect your intellectual property. Whether you’ve invented something related to technology, botany, or manufacturing, you want to ensure that all your hard work and development do not go to waste and that you’ll have ownership and control over your ideas.  

However, the patent application process can be complicated, and oftentimes, your request may be denied. When this happens, you’ll want to thoroughly investigate the reason for your denial and make a new plan to re-apply.

Meeting with an intellectual property attorney can be extremely helpful in these cases, and at the Law Office of Julie Scott LLC, I can help you understand your options after a denial of a patent. My offices are in Kansas City, Missouri, but I can represent clients in Columbia, Springfield, and Rolla, as well. 

Overview of Patent Law  

Obtaining a patent is one of many ways to protect your intellectual property along with copyrights, trademarks, or trade secrets. Each of these serves a different purpose, and patents are used primarily for inventions that can fall into one of three categories: plant, utility, and design.  

A plant patent is specifically for new plants that can reproduce asexually; a utility patent is the most common and covers the broadest range of inventions like machines, chemical formulas, or software; and a design patent covers the specific aesthetics or design of an invention such as packaging, fonts, or clothing. 

The basic requirements of a patent are that it must fall within one of these three categories (meaning it must serve some sort of utility) and be novel and nonobvious. However, applying for a patent can be an onerous process, and meeting these criteria is easier said than done. More often than not, you may think you have a patentable invention, only to find out later that it was rejected.  

Possible Reasons for Patent Denial  

There are three main reasons that your patent may have been denied. The first is that your invention is too similar to another already-patented invention, and thus is not “novel.” Your invention must be something new that has not been mentioned, created, or applied for before.  

Similar to not meeting the “novel” requirement, yet different in the eyes of the USPTO, is that your patent cannot be “obvious,” meaning it doesn’t meet the standards of ingenuity. If your patent proposal is not unique or is something that anyone could have come up with, it will likely be denied. If it’s found that elements of your patent already exist in other inventions and that an average, skilled person could have conceivably put them together, then it will not meet the “obvious” test.  

Lastly, you may have been denied because you simply filled out your application incorrectly. The patent application process is time-consuming and detail-oriented. If you make even a simple mistake, your patent may be denied—even if the actual substance of your patent meets the other criteria. Because of this, it’s always a good idea to work with a skilled lawyer who is familiar with the process and can increase your chances of a successful application. 

Who Denies a Patent?  

You’ll apply for your patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and they are the only ones who can officially deny your application. In any given year, there are hundreds of thousands of patents issued by this agency, so they’re understandably busy. If you file an incomplete application or fail to do preliminary work to make sure your invention even meets the basic criteria, the USPTO will pass over it and move to the next applicant. You need to ensure that your application is 100% complete and that you’re fairly certain you meet the requirements before you apply.  

What to Do If It’s Denied  

If your patent is denied, you have two options. You can either begin the appeals process or you can file a continuity application. An appeal is used if you feel the USPTO failed to evaluate a key element of your invention, and you’re basically asking them to reconsider your application. You do this by explaining in detail why you think they were wrong for denying your invention, but you’re not adding anything new to your application. On the other hand, you may have to file a continuity application which is more or less like applying again except this time you’ll include new information. 

Seek Trusted Legal Counsel   

If you’re in the Kansas City, Missouri, area and have concerns about a recent patent denial, reach out to me at the Law Office of Julie Scott LLC. With my own personal background as a research scientist, I’m uniquely positioned to help fellow inventors obtain the recognition and protection they deserve.