A common question that our potential clients and clients ask us is how long will it take to prosecute a U.S. patent application. The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, such as the technology to be patented, and the art unit to which the application is assigned. According to the USPTO's Performance and Accountability Report for Fiscal Year 2014, the average pending time to the first Office Action is 18.4 months and the average total pending time is 27.4 months.
Additionally, our clients often ask us when an event will occur during the prosecution of their U.S. patent application. The following chart is a rough guide hitting on some of the major events in a patent prosecution, and starts from either the filing of a provisional patent application or a non-provisional patent application.
Event Relative Date based Relative Date based filing of provisional on filing of non- patent application provisional patent application.
File US provisional patent application start
File US non-provisional utility patent 1 year after prov. app. start application, or File PCT application is filed
US non-provisional utility patent 18 months after prov. 18 months after non-application, and PCT application are app. is filed prov. app. is filed published
First US Office Action 30.4 months after prov. 18.4 months after app. is filed non-prov. app. is filed.
File PCT national applications in 30 or 31 months after 30 or 31 months foreign countries prov. app. is filed – after non-prov. app. depending on the is filed- depending country on the country
updated first and second paragraphs on 4/25/15