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What is provisional patent application?

A provisional patent application could be the first step towards being granted patent protection. A provision patent application is a temporary application to “hold your place in line” in terms of priority. A provisional patent application only lasts one year from the date of filing, and a non-provisional application must be filed before the expiration of that year to claim the priority date that the provisional patent application was filed.


Why is priority important?

As a reminder, the US is a first-to-file system. This means the first-to-file an application for an invention is granted priority to others who may file an application to that same invention later, so “holding your place in line” sooner than others could be the difference between getting patent protection or not.


What are the benefits to filing a provisional patent application?

There are several benefits to filing a provisional. Say for instance you do not have the funding to pursue a full non-provisional application, but you intend to get funding in the next year. By filing a provisional patent application, you can secure your priority date, or “hold your place in line,” while you raise funds for the non-provisional application.

Additionally, a provisional application is not examined, and therefore, does not have specific requirements for what is included in your application. If you are trying to secure your priority date quickly, a provisional may be a good first step, while you spend the year of pendency developing your nonprovisional application.


Keep in mind

It is important to remember that a provisional patent application will never become a patent. It is simply a tool to be used to potentially secure your priority date for a later filed nonprovisional. Additionally, if you do not file a nonprovisional while the provisional patent application is pending at the USPTO, you will lose that priority date. In this instance, you could refile the application, but you will not benefit from the earlier priority date. The only way to secure the priority date of a provisional patent application is to file a nonprovisional application claiming the provisional within a year of filing the provisional.

Author: Savanah McLendon.

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