A provisional application is filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It will not become a full patent until the applicant files for a regular non-provisional patent. However, it establishes an official US patent application filing for your invention. A provisional patent application is an interim step to take before filing for a real and official patent. An applicant can file a provisional application without including any formal patent, oath declaration or claims. You should speak with an intellectual property attorney before filing a provisional application. Filing a provisional application does offer many advantages to an inventor or company.
A provisional application is simple and costs less than a non-provisional application. You can legally say a patent is pending on your invention. Filing your provisional application will give you immediate protection and more security against your work being stolen. The pending patent label allows the inventor to showcase his invention to a potential developer and not have to worry the developer will steal the product or idea and claim to be the one who invented it.
You can get certified copies from the USPTO with a provisional patent. Also, you can file multiple provisional applications for patent and then later condense them into a single non-provisional application for a patent. In a provisional patent application, you can submit additional inventor names by petition if an omission has occurred.
How to File a Provisional Patent Application
According to the USPTO website, you must do the following to file a provisional application.
“To be complete, a provisional application must also include the filing fee as set forth in 37 CFR 1.16(d) and a cover sheet identifying:
- the application as a provisional application for patent;
- the name(s) of all inventors;
- inventor residence(s);
- title of the invention;
- name and registration number of attorney or agent and docket number (if applicable);
- correspondence address; and
- any U.S. Government agency that has a property interest in the application.
While there are many advantages to filing a provisional patent application, there are several disadvantages to consider as well. A provisional application automatically is considered abandoned when its pendency expires in 12 months from the filing date. It is mandatory to file a non-provisional application before the pendency period ends. Not doing so will keep you from enjoying the benefits and advantages of filing a provisional application. You must continue to submit additional information for a patent to be granted. Not following the appropriate provisional patent process can result in no patent for your invention.
Getting Legal Help with a Provisional Patent Application
Patent laws are complex and difficult to decipher for the average person, new entrepreneur or startup. Therefore, it is important to contact an experienced IP attorney, who can discuss the filing process. Your attorney can help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of filing a provisional patent application for your invention or product. A patent can be a valuable asset to your intellectual property plan. Your IP attorney can help you decide how to incorporate it into your IP strategy.