Understanding Provisional Patents
Understanding provisional patents means looking at both the advantages and the disadvantages of the provisional patent application. A provisional patent application is viewed by many inventors as a low cost alternative and a preliminary step towards earning a non provisional patent.
The provisional patent application gives an inventor one extra year of protection, or a grace period so to speak, which may be enough time for them to test market their product or idea before they make the large investment in acquiring a regular patent. Provisional patents can therefore be a less risky measure to experiment with the economic viability of a new invention.
A provisional patent application should be filled out as thoroughly as possible, but unlike with a non provisional patent application you will not need to file any claims. Inventors have had the option of filing a provisional application for utility patents since 1995 in the United States.
Provisional patent applications in the US are used to establish an early filing date, but they do not automatically mature into issued patents unless the inventor files an application for a regular patent within one year.
The provisional patent application consists of a specification or description of the invention, and also includes drawings of the invention. These drawings are required when they are necessary to understand the invention.
However, the provisional patent application doesn’t require a formal patent claim, an inventor’s oath or declaration, or an information disclosure statement (IDS). There is also no examination of prior art to determine the patentability of the application, and therefore the fee for a provisional patent filing is much lower than that of a regular patent filing.
A provisional patent application is sometimes used to establish an early filing date in continuing patent applications in order to claim the priority date of an invention.