Many first-time inventors are not aware that obtaining a patent is an adversarial process. As a result, they are surprised when their patent application is initially rejected by the Patent Office. This has led many first-time inventors to give up on their patent application.
Examiners at the Patent Office see their job as protecting the public from patents that should not have been issued. When a patent is issued the government is essentially preventing the public from making or using the invention that was patented. This grant of exclusive use of a patent is granted to inventors in exchange for their contribution of new and useful technology. So, if the invention isn’t actually new, the inventor shouldn’t be given governmental protection of their patented technology. Should an unworthy patent be granted, the public suffers because it is prevented from using the patented technology despite the fact that it is not actually new. This is why the Patent Office sees its job as adversarial to the patent applicant.
Patent examiners will try to find anything publicly available that looks like, works like, or appears to be like the applicant’s “new” invention. Usually they can find something that, at least upon initial review, does look like the applicant’s invention. This is why patent applications are usually rejected upon first examination by the Patent Office.
The good news is that the prior art found by the examiner to support their initial rejection of the application usually isn’t really like applicant’s invention. At this point it is the applicant’s job to point out to the patent examiner why their invention isn’t really like the prior art. This usually requires an experienced patent attorney. Patent attorneys know how to distinguish prior art from new inventions. More importantly, patent attorneys understand the language and arguments that patent examiners need to see when an applicant responds to an initial rejection.
Like most other types of legal practice, applying for a patent is an adversarial process. Because the patent application is adversarial, new inventors need a trained professional in their corner to help convince the Patent Office that a new patent should be issued. If you think you might have a new idea, please contact a patent attorney to help you successfully obtain the patent protection you deserve.