Getting a patent is expensive!
The timeline above was prepared by our patent attorney to manage expectations for how quickly a patent may be issued. Note that this process starts with the filing of the nonprovisional patent - to the left of this chart is the year long provisional patent process.
Now, each step costs money! You have to pay the attorney for their efforts and you have to pay the USPTO for each "office action"! Interestingly, social engineering has crept even into this venue. There are different rates depending on how much money you make and the number of patents you have already filed.
The legal strategy when filing a patent is to maximize the value of the patent. The patent attorney files as expansive a patent application as they believe they can support, and that sets the stage for the "back and forth" with the USPTO. While this is clearly a sound legal strategy, each step costs you money and the patent loses a little value with each iteration.
If any of you are planning on filing a patent, I suggest that you carefully research your patent attorney options and find one whose attitude toward risk and reward is the same as yours is. Also make sure that you completely understand the fee structure because you may be making a $10,000 decision.
Next we'll talk about "patent pending".