A provisional utility patent application is a patent application filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Under United States intellectual property law, a provisional patent, which has been in use since June 8, 1995, offers inventors a lower-cost option for filing with the USPTO.
A provisional patent is valid for twelve months and does not mature into an fully-issued patent unless further actions are taken by the inventor. Within the twelve month period from the date the provisional patent was filed, the inventor is required to issue a non-provisional application to the USPTO, or else the patent is dropped from its records.
The provisional patent under 35 U.S.C. 111(b) of intellectual property law, does not require it to have a formal patent claim or declaration, but instead helps to establish an official non-provisional filing deadline and gives the owner of the patent a “Patent Pending” status to the invention.
Reason for Using Provisional Patent Applications:
Drafting and designing a new device or invention is generally a long process of perfecting designs through trial and error. An inventor may use this tactic as a way of claiming rights to a potential patent as the inventor searches for sponsors that could aid in further development costs and patent registration.
Since a provisional patent is significantly cheaper than a non-provisional utility patent, the inventor will defer these costs until a source of funds can be established.
A provisional patent will also allow an inventor to test out the commercial potential of a product without investing in the full price of filing a non-provisional utility patent. If the product turns out to be a success, the inventor will then commit to the non-provisional patent, as long as it is filed within twelve months after the provisional patent.
Requirements for a Provisional Patent Application:
The provisional patent must be filed with the USPTO under the name of all the inventors involved in the project and can be filed up to twelve months after the date of first sale or publication of the invention. The provisional patent will be approved with a filing date only if it contains a detailed written description of the invention in compliance with the requirements mentioned in 35 U.S.C. 112. It should also contain any and all drawings which would aid in the understanding of the invention, in compliance to 35 U.S.C. 113. The patent may be rejected if it does not meet with the above standards.
The provisional utility patent should also include the filing fee and a cover sheet which identifies the application as a provisional patent, the names of all inventors involved, the address(es) of the inventor(s), the name of the invention, the name of the attorney (if applicable), and the U.S. Government agency that has an interest in the application. Provisional patent forms are available on the USPTO website (www.USPTO.gov). The filing fee for a provisional patent changes depending on the USPTO filing schedule, though the price range is approximately $200 to $250.