The process of getting a patent is long and tedious but definitely worth it because it protects your product and business. We went through three rounds of submissions, changing minor details each time, to get it to the point where it was “acceptable.” When we submitted the application in July of 2010 we never expected that we would have to make changes to the drawings. We had a professional patent drafting company create the eight figures for the original application and even with their help, the patent office still found discrepancies in them.
When we received the first notification that revisions needed to be made, we were overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start. We had 90 days to make revisions and we spent the first 60 contemplating how we were going to tackle the problem. After a lot of thought, we finally decided that we would do the revisions in house instead of going back to the patent drafting company. The drawings for a design patent are simple line drawings and we decided that we had the capability to make the adjustments. We spent many hours editing the smallest details to the point where we felt that all of the images matched one another (so you can imagine the disappointment when we received the next rejection notification).
The second notification came and stated that we had corrected one problem, but in our attempt to correct the second problem we introduced “new matter” (which you cannot do in the middle of an application). During the second set of revisions we were much smarter and had a better understanding of how to adjust the images to make them acceptable. We also got a little bit wiser and faxed our revised drawings to our patent examiner to have her “informally” review them and let us know if our changes were appropriate. Once we got a verbal okay from her, we formally submitted the drawings for the third time. Alas, our drawings were accepted (third time’s a charm)!
My advice to anyone applying for (or revising) a patent is to use the help available to you. Perhaps if we had contacted our patent examiner (who was extremely helpful, thanks Linda!) the first time we were rejected we could have avoided the the subsequent round of revisions.