04 Jan Provisional Patent Application
The United States Patent & Trademark Office introduced the provisional patent application in 1995. The goal was to allow inventors to begin the patent process with a lower initial cost, which is achieved by lower government fees as well as less time spent drafting the application.
Provisional patent applications are temporary applications that last for one year. During this time, inventors can indicate that they have a “patent pending” and within that year, the inventor must file a full, nonprovisional patent application. Once a nonprovisional application is filed and linked to the provisional application, however, inventors are effectively given up to one additional year of protection.
The provisional application is particularly useful because with the recent passage of the America Invents Act, the U.S. is now a first to file nation. Because the filing requirements are simpler, inventors can file an application much more quickly than they previously could.
Inventors should not be complacent about provisional applications, however. Some inventors are under the impression that provisional patents are never read. This is not true. Provisional patents are not read until after a nonprovisional application claiming the benefit of the provisional has been filed – then the two are compared. While there are fewer requirements, provisional patent must still contain a description of the invention. This description needs to contain the best mode and enablement requirements. Provisional patent applications that do not contain best mode and enablement descriptions are ineffective.
Provisional patent applications are frequently used by inventors because of the lower initial cost. While patent attorneys are sensitive to the fact that clients need to conserve money, they generally do not recommend that this be the driving factor behind choosing to acquire a provisional patent. Inventors wishing to conserve costs frequently draft hastily drawn applications that do not meet the Patent Office’s requirements. For an attorney to ensure that the provisional application is adequate, at least 3-4 hours must be spent studying the background of the invention as well as the description.
At Rogers Legal Group, we can help you evaluate the completeness of your provisional patent application and help you quickly transition from a provisional to a nonprovisional patent application. Having someone help you with your patent application from day one can save much time and effort and help ensure that both applications move through the Patent Office smoothly.
Constance Rogers is an attorney and the founder of Rogers Legal Group. She represents clients in intellectual property, business, estate planning and probate, civil and criminal matters throughout the Coachella Valley.