Patent Application Number vs Publication Number

A patent application number vs publication number refers to different representations of a patent.3 min read

Patent Application Number Versus Publication Number

Also called the patent's serial number, patent applications all receive an application number from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). If the application is approved and the invention is officially patented, the patent will have a full patent number.

Application numbers follow this format: XX/XXX,XXX with a forward slash after the first two digits. The full patent number follows this format: X,XXX,XXX. If a patent is published, it will also receive a publication number with the following format XXXX/XXXXXXX.

On an official U.S. patent cover, the format of the patent number would also have a letter and number at the end, for example: US 7,493,599 C2.

What Is a Patent Publication?

A patent publication looks similar to the patent itself, but they also reflect the original patent application document. The publication number, notes the year of publication. For a patent that has the publication number 2013/9304893, its publication is the year 2013. The seven-digit number after the forward slash is unique and doesn't reflect the patent or application number. The purpose of all of these different numbers is to keep the many patents in their different stages well-organized. The U.S. Patent Office (USPTO) assigns these numbers as they choose.

Not every patent application is published, some inventors may choose to not have their application published. This is an option during the original filing of the application. If the box for not publishing the application is left unchecked, the USPTO will publish the application 18 months after the application is filed.

Once a patent application is published, a PDF version of the application and the filed documents will be made available. On the patent publication date, the patent becomes publicly available and no longer confidential. This means that anyone who searches for the patent can read its specifications and claims and can keep up with the status of the patent to see when it is officially granted by the State.

Patents haven't always been published, but the American Inventors Act of 1999 started the publication practice with the first patent application published in 2001. Before patent applications were published, people couldn't learn about patents until they were officially issued. Even though the publication of patents is very common, some inventors do choose to forego this part of the process and kept their patents a secret until they're issued.