Provisional Patents Are Good For One Year: Everything You Need to Know
Provisional patents are good for one year, and because of this, they offer several benefits for anyone seeking an official patent to legally protect their invention.8 min read updated on January 01, 2024
Provisional Patents Are Good For One Year
Provisional patents are good for one year, and because of this, they offer several benefits for anyone seeking an official patent to legally protect their invention. The provisional patent application is significantly cheaper than a non-provisional patent application and does not need any formal requirements in order to be filed.
To file a provisional patent with The United States Patent Office, you pay a one-time filing fee of $130 if you are a smaller entity (such an independent inventor, small business, company with fewer than 500 employees, or a university). If you are considered a micro entity, your filing fee is reduced to a mere $65. By filing a provisional patent application, you are saving yourself hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
Although filing a provisional patent has successfully been done by applicants on their own, many people benefit from the legal services of a patent attorney. When you hire a patent attorney to assist you in the preparation of a provisional patent application, your attorney fees cost exponentially less as well. Because the attorney does not need to address any formal requirements, they can focus all of their efforts on the disclosure portion of the patent application. This takes less time and therefore will cost you less money.
If you want to file a provisional patent application, there are three important things you need to do:
- Provide as much detail about your invention as possible when filling out the document.
- Make sure your invention does not already exist in the market.
- Use your one year term to work on perfecting your invention until it ready for an official patent.
Provisional patents are a tremendous asset for inventors who are working on a tight budget and still want more time to modify their invention. The one year term allows inventors to maintain a “patent pending” status while they improve their invention or consider whether or not an official patent is in their best interest.
Once you discover that you have a patentable invention that doesn’t already exist, it is important to file a provisional patent application if you are serious about pursuing a full patent. If you are certain that you will be pursuing a full patent, you must file a non-provisional application before the 12 month period expires. In your provisional patent application, you will need to include supplemental documents such as illustrations (like drawings and sketches) and in some cases photographs as well.
Once you have completely filled a provisional patent application, you are permitted to begin marketing your invention to the public. You do not have to worry about losing patent rights (so long as you file your non-provisional patent application before the one year period ends) and you can start bringing in profits to fund further patent perusal.
When Should You File a Provisional Patent Application?
When you want to make modifications and other improvements to your invention, you should file a provisional patent application. The provisional patent application will provide you with one full year in which you can make your invention better before officially patenting it. During the one year period, you will be able to legally claim the “patent pending status”. At the time of filing your provisional patent application, you won’t need to include such things as a prototype, 3D renderings, or drawings.
At the time of filing your provisional patent application, your invention does not need to be perfect. You do not have to describe your invention as succinctly as you would have to when filing your non-provisional application. The provisional patent application gives you more time to refine the details of your invention and help you understand it better yourself.
The sooner you file your provisional patent application, the better. Once you have a fairly concrete idea of what your invention is, file your provisional patent application. You can always file a new provisional patent application as you continue to make changes to your invention or you could skip additional provisional patent applications altogether and just go straight to filing your non-provisional patent application.
When you want to continue changing and refining your invention, you should absolutely file a provisional patent application so you can protect your idea until you are ready to obtain an official patent. Another appealing feature of the provisional patent application is that the Patent Office won’t do anything with it until you decide to file your non-provisional patent application. One of the most important things you need to remember when filing your provisional patent application is that if it is done sloppily or lacks pertinent details, it will most likely be denied and ultimately prove to be a total waste of your time and money. Relying on the help of an expert patent attorney will ensure that you do the process right the first time.
What You Need to Know About Drawings in Your Provisional Patent Application
When it comes to providing drawings with your provisional patent application, there a few common misconceptions that people have about them. While provisional patent applications do not need as many formalities as a non-provisional patent application and the most important thing about the provisional patent application is the disclosure, the entire application still needs to be as complete as possible.
That means that if your invention requires drawings to make it easier to understand, then you really cannot get away with filing a provisional patent application without those drawings. In some cases, there are specific inventions that do not benefit from drawings. Such inventions would include things like chemical compounds. In that case, it is better to provide a formula than an illustration. The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is especially true when it comes to inventions and if you want to improve your provisional patent application, a few drawings are absolutely essential to make your application complete.
What You Need to Know About Writing a Complete Description in Your Provisional Patent Application
Although filing a provisional patent application is significantly less difficult and time-consuming than filing a non-provisional patent application, it can still be a difficult process for first-time applicants or anyone doing it without the assistance of a legal expert such as a patent agent or patent attorney. If you get patent advice from anyone other than a patent attorney or agent, that advice generally tends to be bad.
For a provisional patent application to be considered a “useful priority documents” it needs to meet all of the requirements set forth by 112 first paragraph and the pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 11. That also means including a drawing of the invention in your application to make it easier for others to understand.
Many applicants believe they can get away with a poorly crafted provisional patent application just because the Patent Office doesn’t actually review the document. But there are serious consequences to filing a bad provisional patent application and you might not even know that your provisional patent application is not unacceptable until the time you go to file a non-provisional patent application. A defective provisional patent application could ruin your entire patent perusal process and thwart you from being able to obtain an official patent.
Don’t Be Deterred by the Requirements of the Provisional Patent Application Process
When you file a provisional patent applications, you are protecting your idea, which gives you a better chance of securing funding, partnerships, and additional assistance. And when you go to file your non-provisional patent application, you can include anything that was originally included in your provisional patent application. One of the main points of a provisional patent application is to define what your invention is even if it is not yet complete. The provisional patent application is beneficial for everyone from the inventor who made something out of their home garage to the tech developer who create a new software. File a provisional patent application so that you can secure a priority date and protect your work. You should not feel daunted by the provisional patent application; rather, you should have a basic understanding that there are more details to it than you might have realized.
A Provisional Patent Application is Useful, But There is No Such Thing as a Provisional Patent
Although there is such a thing as a provisional patent application, technically speaking there is no such thing as a provisional patent. A provisional patent application itself will never lead to an official patent. If you decide you definitely want to patent your invention, you absolutely have to file a non-provisional patent application. The provisional patent application serves as an economically-friendly initial step to take to secure patent pending status and give you more time to work on your invention and obtain more money to pay the non-provisional patent application fees.
The Reality of Provisional Patent Applications
As already stated above, a poorly crafted provisional patent application can have detrimental effects later on. One of the most catastrophic consequences is that a badly crafted provisional patent application that does not clearly define the purpose of your invention can be used against you in the future. Somebody could take a bad provisional patent application and make the case that there was no actual invention or that the “invention” never matured past the idea phase. There are people in the world who will take advantage of novice inventors who are not familiar with the patent application process and will use bad provisional applications against them.
Why File a Patent Application before Pursuing a License for an Invention
Typically, you cannot license something without a patent pending status on your idea or invention. It is best to have a matured idea before moving forward with both patent and license perusals. Tangibility is paramount. A well-defined invention is worth more than an idea. And once you obtain an issued patent, you have the proof you need to show that your invention is novel and unique. When it comes to inventing something and getting an official patent for the invention, you need to pace yourself. Do not rush ahead in the process. Cover all of your basis and do things one step at a time. That includes filing a provisional patent application before licensing your invention.
The Issue Confidentiality Before and After Filing Patent
The primary purpose of securing patent protection is to confirm that an inventor legally and officially owns their invention. When you file your patent application, you are getting it on the record that your invention belongs to you and it cannot be taken away from you. The provisional patent application is often the best first step an inventor could take. Whatever details are provided in the provisional patent application are protected on the date that the application is filed.
A Provisional Patent Application is a Temporary Patent Application
In closing, when you file a provisional patent application, it is a temporary patent application. After twelve months, the application will expire. If you want to pursue official patent protection for your invention, you need to file a non-provisional patent application before the one year periods ends. The claim you have on that patent will expire if you do not file the non-provisional patent application and you are not guaranteed any legal rights to that patent. When you disclose your invention, you are permitted to do such things as write about it, present it at trade shows, and so on. If you do not file your non-provisional patent application during that one year period, your disclosure turns into prior art. After this, you lose your priority date and you cannot secure a patent.
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