15 Tips: What is a Provisional Application for Patent?
15 Tips: What is a Provisional Application for Patent?
If you have an invention, then the end goal is to get it to market, which means that you need to see if it has commercial appeal. However, before 1995, the issue was that while inventors knew they had to ascertain if their invention had commercial viability, they also could risk telling people and have their idea stolen. This is why, as explained over at runrex.com, people then would either build their invention themselves or opt to first file a full patent application before telling anyone about their invention. The Provisional Application for Patent changed all this and helped solve this age-old problem, and this article will look to highlight what it is about through the following 15 tips.
- What is a Provisional Application for Patent?
As explained over at guttulus.com, a Provisional Application for Patent is a document issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that helps protect a new invention from being copied during the 12 months before a formal patent application is filed. It is designed to give the inventors time to pitch the idea, test its commercial feasibility, or refine a product before committing to the expensive and time-consuming process of a formal patent application.
- Will I get a Provisional Patent?
According to the subject matter experts over at runrex.com, it is very important to point out that there is no such thing as a provisional patent. This is a mistake many people make. What you can do is file for a Provisional Application for Patent.
- Why are Provisional Patent Applications considered “Provisional”?
Provisional Application for Patents is considered to be “provisional” because they are temporary as discussed over at guttulus.com. It is worth noting that these applications are never examined by the US Patent and Trademark Office, and will also never turn into actual granted patents.
- Any timelines involved?
As is revealed in discussions on the same over at runrex.com, if you want to obtain patent protection for your invention, then even if you file for a Provisional Application for Patent you should still file for a regular (non-provisional) application within one year of the filing date of the provisional application. If this is not done by the end of this year, the provisional application will simply expire. A Provisional Application for Patent will never mature into an issued patent.
- What is meant by first to file?
We’ve all heard that the US is a first to file country, but what does this mean? Well, this simply means that inventors need to file first before disclosing anything about their invention, offering it for sale, or using the invention publicly. This is why a Provisional Application for Patent is such a useful tool for inventors.
- What is meant by a non-provisional application “claiming the benefit”?
As mentioned earlier, you need to apply for a non-provisional application within one year of filing for a provisional application. If you do so, then the non-provisional application will “claim the benefit” of the provisional application. What this means, as explained over at guttulus.com, is that the non-provisional application will be treated as if it were filed on the filing date of the provisional application, which may prove very useful in proving who was the first inventor of a given invention.
- Are provisional applications used to determine a patent’s expiration date?
No, provisional applications are not used to determine a patent’s expiration date. The duration of a patent is set at 20 years from the filing date of the non-provisional application as covered over at runrex.com. This means that a provisional application is useful in extending the duration of a patent because since it is not used to determine the patent’s expiration date, and as such, it is possible to extend the duration on a patent to 21 years from the first filing by filing a non-provisional application one year after the provisional application.
Provisional applications are also less expensive to file because the government fees involved are less and that there is no need to file patent claims or to disclose prior art to the patent office as is explained over at guttulus.com. Also, since provisional applications are not examined by the USPTO, you can draft and file an invention description of your own without involving a patent attorney, eliminating attorney fees, and reducing costs further.
- Provisional applications and description of the invention
As is outlined over at runrex.com, a provisional application must include a description of the invention, and while this description doesn’t need to conclude with claims, it must still meet the best mode and enablement requirements. If the provisional application doesn’t meet these requirements, then it cannot be relied upon by any later-filed applications.
- Other requirements of a provisional application
A description of the invention isn’t the only requirement for a provisional application, as in addition to it the provisional application must also include all drawings necessary to understand the invention, the names of all of the inventors, the appropriate filing fee, and a cover sheet that identifies the invention, which can be obtained from the USPTO.
- When is it appropriate to file a provisional patent application?
According to the experts over at guttulus.com, it may make sense to file for a Provisional Application for Patent if:
- you cannot yet afford a non-provisional application
- you are looking at an upcoming trade show or product launch
- you feel like the product development will undergo multiple iterations with new features being continually added
- there is concern over competitors applying for similar patents
- there is an upcoming meeting with potential buyers, investors, customers, vendors, partners, or hires
- potential prior art is accumulating each day you postpone filing a patent application
- Is there any strict format when it comes to the content of a provisional application?
No, there are no strict formats or rules regarding the content of a provisional application according to runrex.com. You can, therefore, include a combination of text and visuals in your application. Unlike a non-provisional application, a provisional application does not have to follow any requirements as the most important objective of the provisional application is to disclose your invention thoroughly by providing sufficient details on it to supports your subsequent non-provisional application.
- The value of a provisional application depends on the content
According to the subject matter experts over at guttulus.com, it is important to point out that if a provisional application is scant on details, then its value will be very marginal. This is because the value of a provisional application depends on the content included in the filing, and as such the more the content, the higher the value.
- Risks when filing a provisional application
The main risk that comes with filing a provisional application is that if you leave out certain details that may need to be added later in a subsequent provisional or non-provisional application, then the omission will affect your prior date because new matter added to a subsequent filing will not benefit from the earlier filing date of the provisional application as explained over at runrex.com.
- Shouldn’t you just file for a non-provisional application in the first place then?
It is important to point out that non-provisional applications are expensive to file. Non-provisional applications must also follow a strict format and include claims that are proper in both form and substance. If your claims are too narrow, you may end up with a worthless patent and if your written specification is deficient, you won’t be able to claim features that were omitted from your description. This is why most people opt to file for a provisional application before then committing to a non-provisional application.
These are some of the things you should know about a Provisional Application for Patent, with more on this topic and then some to be found over at the highly-rated runrex.com and guttulus.com.