If a US patent has been APPLIED FOR, but NOT AWARDED (yet?), how can one find out the Date of Application?
The "Application Date" on the patent application (on Google patent search) shows the date the paperwork was accepted by the Patent Office. However, the effective "priority" date may be further in the past - especially if the application is a continuation of a previously filed application. This priority date may not be obvious, and a convoluted parent application path can (often by intent) confuse things even more.
Instructions for an application in the United States:
- Go to USPTO's Public PAIR
- Search for the application by Application Number. Note that since the application hasn't yet been granted as a patent, then the application file may not be open for public inspection yet, and it won't show up in Public PAIR.
- On the "Application Data" tab, the "Filing or 371(c) Date" tells you what date the application was actually filed with the USPTO.
- If you're trying to find prior art against the application, then you need to look at the continuity data. So on the "Continuity Data" tab, the "Parent Continuity Data" will tell you how far back the application has priority. If the application claims priority to a Provisional application or has a Continuation-in-Part anywhere in the continuity chain, then determining the effective filing date of the claims can get kind of hairy and is best left to the attorneys and patent examiners. But if your document was published before any of the listed dates, then you're pretty safe.