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So You Have Your Patent... What Happens Now?

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First and foremost, congratulations!

But this is not the end of the process, actually just a step along the way. Firstly, instruct your patent attorney to file a continuation application claiming priority from your allowed patent application. This must be done before your patent application issues (a requirement termed "co-pendency"). Discuss with your patent attorney whether to use the continuation application to pursue claims based upon your specification that also cover your competitors' products (called "targeting"), obtaining claims of broader scope by removing any extraneous limitations not core to the claim's patentability.

In addition, feel free to discuss your patented work with others to create joint ventures, licensing arrangements, and so forth to commercialize your technology. Your patent gives you a way to protect your technology from others stealing it and using it. You have been waiting to talk about it... now is your chance.

Moreover, consider subscribing to a service that will pay/remind you to pay maintenance fees on your issued patent. It is critical that you pay maintenance fees for US patents on time and that come due at 3, 7 and 11 year intervals after the date of issue of your patent. The last thing you want to happen is to lose your patent because you forgot to pay a fee.

Also, I advise that you maintain a notebook in which you document improvements to your technology. At regular intervals, proactively meet with your patent attorney to discuss additional patent applications protecting your later work and improvements. You cannot assume that your original patent covers any changes or improvements, no matter how seemingly small.

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