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.
Allowance & Issue
U.S. Patenting
     After the Civil Engineering Patent Applicant presents claims that meet U.S. patent law's statutory requirements (e.g., 35 U.S.C. 101, 102, 103, and 112), the Examiner issues a Notice of Allowance.  Although the Notice of Allowance usually follows an exchange of Office Actions and Replies to Office Actions between the Examiner and the Applicant, the USPTO does occasionally initially allow Applicant's claims without issuing an Office Action.  However, receiving a Notice of Allowance instead of an Office Action can often signal that the Applicant did not claim the full breadth of an invention, but rather may have claimed the invention too narrowly in view of the prior art.    

     Upon receiving the Notice of Allowance, the Applicant or Applicant's representative checks the file history to ensure that potentially harmful issues such as unaddressed drawing objections and incorrect patent term adjustment are corrected.  Also, prior to paying the approximately $2000 fee for patent issue and publication, the Applicant should file any desired continuing patent applications.  Because anything disclosed in a patent application but not claimed is donated to the public, Applicants must file continuing applications with any desired additional patent claims based on an allowed patent application before that allowed application issues.  Also, in cases where the Examiner has allowed some claims but has refused to allow other claims, the Applicant can consider canceling the rejected claims to allow the application, while filing a divisional patent application to continue to pursue those rejected claims.  Not surprisingly, a single original patent filing may have related continuing applications still pending at the Patent Office for several years.    

     In certain situations, Applicants may also file an RCE after receiving a Notice of Allowance to request the Examiner to consider newly found prior art.  Because the Applicant has a duty to report all known prior art to the USPTO until patent issue, this situation is somewhat common.  Applicants must avoid the temptation to try to unethically sweep newly discovered prior art under the rug at the last minute, as litigators have an uncanny ability to later find these unethical cover-ups and use them to invalidate a patent based on the doctrine of "inequitable conduct."       

A U.S. patent based on an allowed patent application typically issues about two months after the Applicant pays the issue fee.  Although several procedures might pull an issued patent back into the USPTO for further examination and review (see Patent Road Map), many patents never return to the patent office after issue.   
Tappan Zee Bridge in New York
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