It is not mandatory for innovative patents to be examined but they must be examined to be enforceable. Patent attorneys usually advise that a request for examination of innovative patents be put in at the time of application for grant. You can have the examination expedited under the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH).
If your patent satisfies all requirements, then it is granted and published in the official journal. If it is not opposed, then a grant is issued to you against payment of annual maintenance fee. Innovation patents are granted for a period of up to 8 years and standard patents for 20 years after which they must be renewed. Pharmaceutical patents are granted for a period of up to 25 years.
You can apply for patents for a product, process or a technology. It should be something that has practical application. If you have a general idea or theory or a principle it cannot be patented. Talk to your patent attorneys to be sure that the item you want to patent is actually patentable. Otherwise your application may be rejected for lack of subject matter.
Patent attorneys are specialists in the patenting process. They know exactly what to do and how to avoid any pitfalls and ensure that your application is not rejected. Consulting patent attorneys at the first stage of application when you feel that your product or technology is ready to be marketed, will save you a lot of unnecessary effort, time and expense.