If you filed a Patent application in 2001, you’d probably be expecting to at the very least enter into a dialogue with the examining body fairly quickly and given that the accepted wisdom is that these things do take time that a few years at most should bring the matter to a conclusion, one way or another.

This pattern was followed with our application to both the UK and Australian patent office’s which granted in 2003 & 2005 respectively,  given that we’d started the UK prosecution a little earlier in 1999, this all seemed fairly reasonable.

So three to four years, probably par for the course? Not in the USA !

It took the USPTO six years to even pick up our application and start to read it.  Their immediate response was to ask us to split the invention in half and file two applications (more fees for them!) So, that takes us to 2007, ongoing dialogue lasting a year or almost two, leading to a face-to-face meeting in Washington with the examiner in 2008, movement towards a grant you might think.  Yes at first, we seemed to have agreed language and content that described our invention, just when we thought the grant was there, complete reversal from the examiner! Then there was backtracking, more paperwork, more fees and unbelievably three more years to take us to the beginning of 2011.

At this point we contacted the USPTOs ombudsman, who I understand is operating on a temporary trial basis to see how things go. Given our experience we think is likely to be extremely busy. Remarkably within six months of our contacting him and following almost 10 years of dialogue fees, paperwork, trans-continental phone calls and flights, more fees and of course more paperwork we have today the 16th of August 2011 been granted patent number 8,001,000.

I wonder if they were just waiting till they got to a round number?


Viztone is a privately owned UK based company that has developed Video Ring back Tone and Video Ring Tone technology based around its patent portfolio.  www.viztone.co.uk