If you have a groundbreaking idea that you want to eventually develop into a product, protecting it is likely one of your top priorities. Unfortunately, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will not extend a patent to ideas. While you do not need to submit a prototype with your application, you will need technical drawings and a proper description that explains in depth how your invention will operate.
It can take a significant amount of time to take an invention from the idea stage to something that is developed sufficiently to qualify for a patent. For some inventors, a provisional patent application represents a good middle ground that can provide enough time to develop the idea further and decide whether a full patent is the right path to pursue.
What Is A Provisional Patent?
A provisional patent application can give inventors a head start on the patent process without the need to make a significant investment in a full patent. This type of patent does not provide you with full protection, nor does not have the potential to mature into a full patent. Instead, it serves as a stepping stone for those who are considering filing for a patent in the future.
It is less expensive and quicker to prepare and file due to the lack of formalities, with the filing fee being several hundred dollars less than a non-provisional patent application. In addition, if you work with a patent attorney, your attorney fees will be significantly lower than they would be on a full patent as the attorney will not need to invest as many hours on the application.
The only caveat is that if you do ultimately decide to pursue an issued patent, you will end up paying more overall as you will pay filing fees on both the provisional patent and the non-provisional patent. However, given the relative affordability of a provisional patent and the earning potential of a full patent, this is usually not considered a major concern for most inventors.
One major benefit of a provisional patent is that it buys applicants more time to refine the invention, which means they also have more time to decide if they truly want to pursue a patent. This enables the inventor to explore the marketability of the invention before making an expensive commitment to obtaining a full patent. For example, if you show your invention to several companies and no one is interested, you may decide it is not worth pursuing further.
Who Should Get A Provisional Patent?
If you have an idea for a product that likely does not exist and would benefit a certain demographic, it is worth filing a provisional patent application for it. You will need a detailed description of the invention that is written in a manner that would be easy for others to understand.
Many people choose to work with a patent attorney, who has the experience and specific skills needed to create an application that is more likely to be accepted.
Once the application has been filed, you will be able to claim a status of “patent pending” on your invention for a full year. During this time, you will be able to refine your invention further if needed. It also gives you more time to gather the funding needed to obtain a full patent, which can be a very expensive process.
Another benefit of filing a provisional patent application is that if you eventually decide to file a non-provisional application, your application will have priority status because of the previous filing date.
If your invention is not quite ready or you do not have the time it takes to write a detailed non-provisional patent application, a provisional patent application is highly recommended.
Does A Provisional Patent Offer Protection For Your Idea?
A provisional patent only gives the inventor the right to claim patent pending status. It does not necessarily grant legal protection against others who attempt to copy the idea or product. You, the inventor, would not be able to sue another party for copying your idea for infringement with only a provisional patent application in place.
Instead, its value is found in its ability to set a filing date with earlier priority, which could put you ahead of competitors who may try to patent a similar invention. In addition, claiming a status of patent pending shows potential investors that you are serious about moving forward.
Keep in mind that a provisional patent application will not be published, so there is no chance of your confidentiality being compromised. Instead, the USPTO keeps the application on file without reviewing it until you file a non-provisional application.
Request A Consultation With The Experienced Patent Attorneys
No matter what type of protection you choose to pursue for your invention, working with patent attorneys can help you understand the processes. For further information about provisional patent protections, or for assistance with your application, request a consultation with the professional patent attorneys at Metrolex IP Law Group today.