Thursday, 29 January 2015

Provisional patents explained

A provisional patent application is a type of interim utility patent filed with the USPTO. You can file for a provisional patent without including any formal patent claims, oath or declaration, or any information disclosure (prior art) statement. The keyword in provisional patent application is "provisional". A provisional patent application only gives one year of protection.

After that you must file for a non-provisional patent or abandon your patent. The USPTO created provisional patent applications as a means to establish an early effective filing date for a non-provisional patent application, which helped balance American patent law with the patent laws of other countries. It also allows the term "Patent Pending" to be used.

There is a great misunderstanding among many inventors and entrepreneurs regarding what many simply refer to as a “provisional patent.” The first thing that needs to be said is that there is no such thing as a “provisional patent.” Instead, what you file is called a provisional patent application. Like any other patent application, a provisional patent application is effective to stop the clock relative to so-called statutory bars and immediately upon filing a provisional patent application you can say you have a “patent pending.”

Why provisional patent applications a good idea One reason I like to suggest starting with a provisional patent application as a way to initiate the patent process is because they are cheaper to prepare (because there are no formal requirements) and the filing fee due to the United States Patent Office at the time of filing is only $130 for small entities (i.e., individuals, universities and companies with 500 or fewer employees), which saves you several hundreds of dollars compared to the filing fees for a non-provisional patent application. Indeed, the filing fee is even less — just $65 — if you qualify as a small entity.

Many patent attorneys and patent agents will question whether you can really prepare a provisional patent application while spending less time than preparing a nonprovisional patent application. I am here to tell you that it is not only possible but I do it all the time and so do other attorneys at my firm and many other attorneys that I know at other firms. Describe whatever you can, file a provisional patent application and work toward perfecting the invention and seeing if there is a market.

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