A provisional patent application is an expedient way to establish a priority date for an invention with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
It is an effective and relatively cost-friendly way to safeguard your place in line with the USPTO while you decide whether to file a regular patent application.
A provisional patent application by itself is not a patent, but simply a holding place. To receive the benefit of the earlier provisional patent application date, a regular patent application must be filed within one year. Importantly, the 12-month period cannot be extended.
Filing a provisional patent application also allows you to immediately start labeling your invention as “patent pending.”