This website illustrates how Civil Engineers may make greater use of the Global Patent System to Promote Progress in their Field.
The American Founders included Patent Rights in the United States Constitution to Promote Progress.
Patenting in the United States
U.S. Patenting
     Patent filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) marks the beginning of a relatively complex roadmap of procedures and proceedings available to the patenting civil engineering enterprise.  The roadmap on this webpage reflects the changes to U.S. patent law made by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), signed into law on September 16, 2011, and coming into full effect by 2013.  The patent system does not require Applicants to undertake all or even most of these available procedures, some of which include particularly high USPTO fees.
Interactive Patenting Roadmap for the United States
      Patent filing with the USPTO starts the patenting process, followed by patent prosecution.  Civil Engineering Patent Applicants may accelerate examination of their patent applications through various available procedures.  Unless a patent Applicant accelerates examination, that Applicant must typically wait two or more years after patent filing before a USPTO Examiner begins examination of an application.  Even if initially rejected by the USPTO, Applicants may use one or more Requests for Continued Examination (RCE), along with a fee, to extend patent prosecution to attempt to attain allowance of patent claims.  Patent prosecution typically ends with Allowance and Issue, rejection or abandonment of the patent application, or an Appeal to the USPTO Patent Trial & Appeal Board.  In the case of Allowance and Issue, the Examiner indicates that the Civil Engineering Patent Application meets the statutory requirements for patent grant (e.g., 35 U.S.C. 101, 102, 103, and 112).    

     Following issue, if necessary, the Applicant may resort to procedures to correct errors in an issued patent.  The Applicant may request that the USPTO issue a Certificate of Correction to correct minor errors in an issued patent, or may initiate Reissue proceedings to correct more substantial errors.  The Leahy-Smith Act also provides a Supplemental Examination procedure to the Applicant, if necessary, to disclose information that should have been disclosed to the USPTO during patent prosecution.    

     Challengers of an issued patent may use several proceedings to attack issued patents, including Post-Grant Review, Inter partes Review, and Ex parte Reexamination.  Patent challengers may also challenge the inventorship of a patent in a Derivation Proceeding.  Also, during patent prosecution, third parties may submit potentially damaging information against a patent application through a Third Party Pre-Issuance Submission.    

     Patent owners may bring a patent infringement action in U.S. District Court and in the International Trade Commission (ITC).  In certain situations, would-be targeted infringers can seize the initiative from patent owners and file a preemptive Declaratory Judgment action in U.S. District Court.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit hears patent appeals from U.S. District Courts and the International Trade Commission, and the Supreme Court of the United States occasionally chooses to grant certiorari for important patent appeals.  A U.S. patent may remain in force until its patent term expires.