Low on Time or Money? Try a Provisional Patent

There is a lot at stake when applying for a patent.

Depending on how you write the claims and the specification of your patent application, and how you prosecute the patent in front of the Patent Office, you could lose potential patent rights at any point in the examination process.

Filing A Patent Application

Before you file a patent application, you should determine what types of patent applications apply to your invention, e.g. utility, design, and/or plant.

Then you should determine your filing status:

  • Large Entity – These entities pay full application fees
  • Small Entity – Universities, nonprofits, individuals & small business (generally defined as having fewer than 500 employees) can receive a 50% discount on application fees
  • Micro Entity – Individuals with a gross income less than 3 times the U.S. median household income, who qualify as a Small Entity, and who have not previously been named as an inventor on more than four U.S. patent applications can receive a 75% discount on their application fees.

Finally, you must decide whether to file a provisional patent application or a traditional non-provisional patent application. A provisional patent application, which is valid for only one year, is not subject to examination and often only includes a specification describing the invention and any drawings that might be necessary to understand the invention. No patent claims are required. Provisional patent applications are not available for design patents.

Why File a Provisional Patent Application?

A provisional patent application can be a lot less expensive to file than a non-provisional patent application. Currently, the provisional patent application fees for filing a provisional patent application with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) are as follows:

  • $260 for Large Entities
  • $130 for Small Entities
  • $65 for Micro Entities

A provisional application is only viable for one year as it simply serves as a placeholder for a non-provisional patent application, or for foreign patent applications, to be filed within that year. This can be extremely useful when you have an invention, but need more time to explore its patentability, when you are continuing to refine your invention, or when don’t have the time and/or the money to pursue a non-provisional patent.

This placeholder is also extremely important because it gives you what is called a priority date, which generally sets the invention date for patent claims in a subsequent non-provisional patent application, as long as those claims are supported by the specification and drawings of your provisional patent application. This means that public disclosures made after the priority date are less likely to be considered prior art to your invention. Furthermore, this priority date can be used to file other types of patent applications for your invention, including an international patent application.

A provisional patent may be the best way to go in terms of getting a patent pending immediately without having to break the bank. Keep in mind, however, a provisional patent application will only give you the right to claim the benefit of its priority date if you file a regular non-provisional patent application, or foreign patent application, within one year. If you don’t convert within a year, the application is irretrievably abandoned, and you will have lost your provisional application priority date forever.

Consult With An Experienced Patent Lawyer

A provisional patent application can be the fastest and least expensive way to establish a patent priority date for your invention and to protect it while you find the time and money to file a regular non-provisional patent application. For more information or for help with filing a provisional patent application for your invention, contact Tips Group at 1-888-818-5481 to schedule a free consultation.