What is a provisional patent?

Today, I want to discuss with you provisional patent applications. Many people refer to this as a provisional patent, but that term is incorrect. There is no such thing as a provisional patent. There is only a provisional patent application. This will never turn into an actual patent unless you take another major step to turn it to a non-provisional application.

But let me step back for a second. The patent application process is extremely technical and forces the applicant to comply with many requirements. To draft a proper patent application, you need to find someone with experience in drafting patent applications and you have to give them a considerable amount of time, usually several weeks, for them to complete the job. Often times, clients don’t have the time or money to create such a formal document. For these cases, the patent laws allow you to file what is called a “provisional” application, which does not have all of the technical requirements of a non-provisional application. In fact, no one at the patent office of or even looks at your provisional application. It simply serves as a placeholder allowing you more time to work on your non-provisional patent application.

Now because there are no formal requirements for the provisional application and because no one actually looked at it, I don’t want you to think it doesn’t matter what is included in that document. If you convert your provisional application to a non-provisional application the content of your provisional application can be very damaging to you later on. Also, because the United States, the patent goes to the first inventor to file his application NOT the first inventor the think of it, your provisional must have sufficient disclosure to show you actually were the first inventor to file the details of that invention. Gone are the days when we could file a photocopy of a cocktail napkin as a provisional.

So you really want to have a conversation with your patent attorney and explain to him or her your goals and budget. The flexibility of the provisional usually means you will be able to reach both.

I have been drafting patents for over 15 years and have been teaching patent drafting skills at the law school level for almost 10 years. I have also litigated many patent infringement cases. I, and the attorneys at The Concept Law Group, know how to draft provisional patent applications that will meet any budget.

The Concept Law Group is ready to help you get started. Call us today for your free confidential consultation.