When Does A Patent Become Public Information In The US
Generally, patent applications are published and made available to the public for viewing and search after eighteen months after their earliest priority date. The applications are published regardless of whether a patent has been awarded.
However, an exception to the above rule also exists. Applications that are accompanied by non-publication requests are not automatically published after the expiration of this period.
It is also worth mentioning that provisional applications are never published by the US Patent and Trademarks Office. They only remain at the USPTO for 12 months after which they are abandoned. In some cases however these applications may be made available to the public.
Let’s now look at when patent applications are made available to the public.
Publishing At 3-4 Months
Some patent applications are usually published by the USPTO after a period of three to four months. These applications are those that refer to continuations-in-part or divisional applications. These are published as soon as they are processed by the USPTO system.
Publishing At 6 Months
Next in line are the patents that are published after six months after the application is made. This publishing date comes earlier than the standard eighteen months only for applications whose priority date was 12 months before the application date.
Publishing At 18 Months
As previously stated, all new patent applications in the US are automatically published 18 months after the application date, provided that no non-publication request is made.
Publishing Beyond 18 Months
In some cases, patent applications are made after the standard 18 month period is over. This mainly relates to international patent applications. These are applications filed with WIPO at first and then later with the USPTO. The USPTO then uses the earlier filing date with WIPO as the priority date.
From the above, you will have an idea of just when a certain patent application will be made available to the public by the USPTO.