How long is it going to take to get a patent?
Unfortunately, there is no standard amount of time that it takes to get a patent application to issue. There are many variables, such as the particular class that the invention falls into and the examiner that has been assigned the application, that dictate how long it takes a patent application to be examined. The patent office has set a few self imposed time limits though. For instance, the Patent Office tries to get a first office action out to the applicant within 18 months from the filing date of the application. The Patent Office also wants examiners to respond to applicants communications within 6 months and for patent applications to issue if at all within 3 years from the filing date. In many classes, the Patent Office does a good job issuing patents within 2 to 3 years from the filing date. In some popular classes, however, this time frame is nothing more than wishful thinking. We have worked on many applications that didn't receive the first office action within 5 years and were still pending for nearly 7 years after the filing date. Luckily, the Patent Office rules give applicants an extension of time on the term of their patent for any delays caused by the Patent Office. Of course, any delays that are the applicants fault, such as extensions of time and requests for continued examination (RCEs), are subtracted from the extension. Accordingly, applicants should plan for a compact prosecution that limits these types of delays in order to maximize the term of their patent.