Applying for a patent can be a lengthy and confusing process, but we can help you along the way. Here is a basic list of the order in which this process usually works, with some variation:
The USPTO website https://www.uspto.gov/ has several helpful guides.
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The USPTO has been working on new tools to help inventors and researchers:
MyUSPTO allows users to access the same USPTO databases and save their searches with a unique login.
PatentsView maps patent clusters geographically and according to technology or industry.
Annual Performance and Accountability Reports contain useful information such as patent pendency (the average time from filing to granting of a patent or trademark). You can download PDFs from 1993-2019 here.