Sunday, February 15, 2009

Provisional Patents

The Provisional Patent Application was initiated in 1995 in answer to the foreign patent policy of “first person to file” versus our “first inventor” recognition. There are arguments for and against both. I’ll stay with what I know for now.

The Provisional Patent Application is like a stepping stone for preparation and evaluation before filing for a Utility Patent. The Utility will be more rigorous and expensive. The provisional gives you time to decide. And it doesn’t demand much effort or expense:
  • Provisional Patents Apps are not examined.
  • You supply Title and Description.
  • Current filing fee is $110.
  • It’s good for one year (pat. Pend)
Yup, even unexamined you get one year of “confidential coverage” and can claim a patent pending status while evaluating the future. It often gives you more confidence for disclosing stuff when seeking manufacturing and markets. It affords a great opportunity for checking the worthiness of your product. In theory you’ll have a year to decide - whether to seek the expensive Utility Patent. But I warn you, that year can shrink fast, so plan accordingly to get full benefit.
If you do continue with a Utility Patent, it can benefit by back-dating to the filing date of the provisional. The Utility still extends 20 years from its own filing date. But, in theory only do you can get a n extra full year. Your papers should be submitted prior to due dates.
I advise searches, history and description preparation when considering the provisional. Yes, treat it just like a planned utility application. No, it’s not required. But, it’s good schooling for what lies ahead. The effort will help your prepare for filing the Utility. At least - during your diligent searches - you’ll discover what else is out there, already patented. You’ll get a better idea of your chances. Now, that’s smart!

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