What is a Provisional Patent Application? Part 2 of 3
From the Colorado Patent Attorney at the Trenner Law Firm
As previously mentioned, the provisional patent application is good for a period of 12 months from the date that it is filed, and cannot be extended under any circumstances. Consequently, sometime during this 12 month period the applicant must file for a non-provisional patent application in relation to the provisional patent application, in order to benefit from the earlier file date. This non-provisional patent application filing must contain or be amended with specific references to the previously filed provisional application. In other words, have some similar qualities to your originally provisionally patented idea.
Provisional patent applications differ from the more common non-provisional patent applications in several ways: First and foremost a provisional patent application filing is a great deal less expensive than applying for a utility patent. The filing fee for a provisional patent application is much less. Also compare the cost of a provisional application to the thousands of dollars you can spend with all that is involved to with a full patent application (research fees, issue fees, attorney fees, maintenance fees, etc…), the $125 seems like a drop in the bucket. Provisional patent applications are also much easier than non-provisional application. You can forgo many of the complicated processes involved with a non-traditional application. For example; Patent Application Declaration (states you are the actual inventor and have disclosed all information you feel is relevant to the examination of the application), Amendments to the application if not initially approved by USPTO (which is very common), or Information Disclosure Statement (a discovery of all the relevant information known to you that is related to the originality of your invention). Probably the most important difference is that a provisional patent application will not result in you having a patent at the end of the 12 month period, or any of the rights you would be granted with a full patent. The provisional application provides you with some time to decide if you want to go through the process of obtaining a non-provisional patent application, and the privileges that come with that patent. This decision must be made within a year from your provisional patent application date, and ultimately approved by the USPTO to receive the rights and privileges that come with a patent.