Since a change in 2011, the United States has awarded patents based on a first to file philosophy. This means that your invention isn’t yours until you file your patent. Filing a provisional patent, though, allows you to document an idea’s conception, giving you up to one year to secure a non-provisional patent while using the original filing date. It’s considered a type of placeholder until the invention is perfected, so filing a provisional patent is a crucial step to not only establishing ownership by being the first file, but also in developing your idea further.
Benefits of filing a provisional patent include:
- The inventor has an entire year to conduct research, make changes, and ultimately perfect their invention before filing a non-provisional patent.
- Costs less money than a non-provisional patent
- Starts the clock on the filing date which you can use once you file for a non-provisional patent.
Other Considerations for Provisional Patent
A provisional patent is an excellent option for inventors who have a great invention, but perhaps just need a bit more time to fine-tune specific features. It’s important to understand that there are a few limitations for filing a provisional patent. Considerations include:
- A provisional patent only holds the place for the invention described in the application. The application should anticipate changes and flexibility, so you have the opportunity to craft the best non-provisional patent at a later date.
- There are no extensions. The provisional patent is only good for one year. You must file for the non-provisional patent before the deadline.
How to File a Provisional Patent
There is a specific process that you must follow when filing a provisional patent application. First, you must write a detailed description and provide a drawing, include a USPTO cover letter, and of course, pay the filing fee. The price of the fee ranges depending on the type of entity that is filing.
Find a Patent Attorney
Once you are ready to file, you should consult with a patent attorney. It’s incredibly important that you file a thorough provisional patent application, so it’s much easier to file a non-provisional patent later on. A lawyer can help you make this process simple and the application as airtight as possible. LawTrades is a marketplace for online legal services that connects clients with a freelance attorney. Because this process is likely to be ongoing, you may also be interested in one of our legal plan subscriptions. With this option, you have unlimited legal consultations, a $0 service fee, and discounted hourly rates starting at $150 per hour.