Provisional Patents

WHAT IS A PROVISIONAL PATENT?

A provisional patent application provides a 12 month period to further develop the invention, market and seek licensing agreements. A provisional patent is only a placeholder and a non-provisional patent application must be filed within the 12 month period based on the information contained in the provisional application. If no further action is taken within the 12 months, the patent is invalidated and the orignal file date (or priority date) is lost.

Compared to a traditional patent, provisional patent applications (PPAs) are simpler and more concise – frequently taking less than 10 pages. In the application, the filer explains the product’s design and the purpose that it serves.

There are a couple of major benefits to obtaining a provisional patent. First, inventors don’t have to worry about a manufacturer stealing their idea because the temporary “patent pending” label signals a potential lawsuit in the event of infringement. Secondly, PPAs allow inventors to perfect their concept prior to filing a full patent. Also important: It puts on the record an official filing date with the USPTO. Being the "first inventor to file" could be important in getting a patent later on.