A provisional patent application is an interim utility patent filed with a patent office. A provisional patent is filed without including any claims, oath or declaration, or any disclosure statement. A provisional patent application gives you protection on your invention for one year only and after that you must file for a non-provisional or regular patent application or abandon your patent. It also allows the term
“Patent Pending” to be used, which acts as a deterrent to likely infringers.
Provisional patent application also acts as a low-cost alternative or a preliminary step before filing a non-provisional patent. It gives one additional year of protection or grace which is normally enough time for an inventor to evaluate the market potential of his invention and to get investors on board.
A provisional patent application has numerous advantages over regular or non-provisional patent application. The foremost being the priority date. An earlier priority on a patent application could be a game changer for a breakthrough invention. Moreover, since the cost involved in drafting and filing a provisional patent application is generally 1/4th of a regular application, therefore it serves as a cost effective, legitimate and credible source of getting your invention registered with a patent office.
Another advantage of filing a provisional patent application is the tenure of protection that your invention enjoys. A provisional patent application gives your invention a total tenure of 21 years which otherwise would be 20 years if you first file a regular or non-provisional patent application.
Further, the paperwork involved in filing a provisional application is minimal and easy. You don’t need any legal knowledge or skills to file a provisional application. Though it is recommended to involve a firm or patent agent/attorney, but in case you don’t wish to, a provisional application can easily be filed online directly with the patent office.
One precaution that has to been taken with a provisional application is the cutoff date. The provisional application automatically expires at 12 months and one has to file a regular or non-provisional application before that. In case you miss the deadline and don’t act within 12 months you not only loose the priority date but even lose the right to patent that invention.
To conclude, it is very convenient, easy, and inexpensive to file a provisional patent application and the associated benefits are immense. Therefore, it is recommended to go for a provisional patent application filing as soon as possible.