What is a provisional patent application?

What is a provisional patent application?

The provisional patent application is not the same as a full, granted patent application. A provisional patent application is filed exclusively at the USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office). Consider the provisional patent application as a preliminary patent application. There are a few key differences between a provisional and a full patent.

Here’s how a provisional patent application is different:

  1. It has fewer requirements, and a more straightforward application process. Because of these factors, the provisional patent application is a perfect solution for those who want to file first and obtain coverage over their ideas, then file for a full patent later.

  2. It doesn't turn into a full patent application automatically - you still have to file for a full (utility) patent application. The provisional patent application will require you to file a full patent application within a year.

  3. The official patent examination won't start before the end of your provisional application period, which is up to one year from the filing date. However, you still have to meet the patent filing requirements of the USPTO for your provisional. If your full patent application is vastly different from the description of your provisional application, your provisional may not give you the coverage that you need.

Provisional patent applications are great for those innovators who want to file first. Remember, the first patent to be filed for an idea — whether a provisional or a full (utility) patent — wins. Once you have filed, you are allowed to use the "patent pending" designation.

It is highly recommended for those filing a provisional patent application to consider involving a patent attorney or agent to get the best coverage for your idea.

The provisional application has straightforward documentation. It includes a cover sheet, written documentation of your application, and the fees for the application. In addition, we strongly recommend preparing patent drawings as well.

Keep in mind, we specialize in provisional patent applications. If you have any further questions on provisionals, please reach out to us.


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