There are two primary kinds of patent protections issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The first is a non-provisional patent. This is granted as a formal, final form of patent protection that can safeguard an idea, process, product or plant for up to 20 years. The second is a so-called patent protection. This is granted as a temporary safeguard that does not fully mature into a non-provisional patent unless certain conditions are met.
It is worth noting that there is technically no such thing as a provisional patent. But because the protections granted at the end of the provisional patent application process function as a provisional patent might, the term is only technically incorrect. In general, protections granted at the end of the provisional patent application process last for just under one year unless the patent applicant has filed for a non-provisional patent within that period of time.
Benefits of Filing a Provisional Patent Application
Filing a provisional patent application allows an inventor or designer to essentially extend the filing date term associated with a non-provisional patent application. During the one-year provisional period, an applicant will be legally allowed to use the phrase “patent pending” and will benefit from a secured filing date. This date will allow the applicant numerous benefits if he or she ultimately decides to file a non-provisional patent. Specifically, it extends the date by which the USPTO will consider the invention as having been disclosed to the government. This matters because the disclosure date affects how the creation is tested against for both its novelty and usefulness. With few exceptions, the filing date determines what may be considered prior art against the patent eligibility for the invention. Avoiding the existence of as much prior art as possible is critical to ensuring that a creation is considered both new and non-obvious as mandated under patent law.
Many individuals and businesses opt to file for this kind of patent protection because it allows them one year to secure financing, perfect their designs and determine marketability before committing to disclose their creations publicly during the formal non-provisional patent application process.
It is also worth noting that because ideas and products affected by provisional patent applications are not published, an inventor’s idea or product will not be made public if/until a non-provisional patent application is filed with the USPTO. This ensures privacy if/until the inventor determines that he or she does want to file for full and public patent protections.
Potential Drawbacks of Filing a Provisional Application
It is important to understand before filing that a provisional patent application can only be approved once and cannot be renewed. As a result, the temporary protections granted during this period will not remain intact unless a non-provisional patent is filed within 365 days after the provisional patent application is filed. So, if an invention or idea is not ready to be fully patented within that time period, it will be made vulnerable to infringement as soon as the time limit expires.
As previously noted, securing an early filing date is critical. It is worth noting that most foreign countries similarly base their deadlines for filing non-provisional patent applications within their systems based on the filing dates secured by any provisional patent applications submitted. This means that filing for foreign patents may be complicated if an applicant secures a provisional patent filing date but does not file for a non-provisional patent until after the provisional patent filing date has expired.
Help Is Available
Because a provisional application can neither be renewed nor extended, the timing and proper filing of its patent protections are critical. Therefore, if you are interested in filing for this temporary kind of patent protection, please reach out to the team at LawTrades. Our extensive intellectual property experience and efficient, affordable approach may be the perfect fit for your situation. Great ideas deserve the patent protections they are owed and we are eager to aid you in securing yours.