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Provisional Patent Application (US)


A provisional application is basically a 1-year reservation for your utility application. It looks similar, and can serve as a "priority application" to a regular utility patent application filed within 12 months. The filing fees are much lower, and generally the provisional application can be filed more quickly and less expensively, yet still provides the inventor with the ability to claim "patent pending" on the invention. See the more detailed discussion below that further explains the differences between a provisional and a regular, non-provisional (utility) patent.

Provisional applications are useful when the invention has not yet been fully developed and is likely to change somewhat in the next few months. The changes can be made less expensively to the subsequent non-provisional application before it's filed.  Further a Provisional Application can be beneficial if cash flow is a consideration... it's less expensive to file a provisional application initially, although you will have to still file a non-provisional application within 12 months to protect the invention, so there will be some additional cost on the back end of the process even if it's less up-front.  Also, a provisional is useful if you want to buy another year of "patent pending" status, and are perhaps thinking that the prospects of getting the non-provisional application is not favorable (such as if you know there is a lot of relevant prior art, for example).

Benefits and Drawbacks of Provisional (vs. Non-Provisional) Utility Patents

Benefits Drawbacks
Quick and Less Expensive to File Does not, by itself, provide any protection
Allows 12 months to perfect the invention  Delays PTO Examination (until regular Utility Application is filed)
Allows inventor to legally claim "Patent Pending" Starts the 1-year timer to file most foreign patents
Buys an "extra year" of patent pending status Not as attractive, by itself, to potential licensees
If we write your provisional, when it comes time to file your non-provisional, we don't charge you the full price of the non-provisional, but rather just the difference  


All Provisional Patent Applications include:

  1. One or more claims, summary, abstract, and detailed description (no background section written)
  2. Preparation of formal drawings (up to three sheets; each additional sheet is $100)
  3. Filing paperwork required by PTO
  4. Electronic filing at the PTO

To get started, complete the form below. Alternately, you may fax or mail this Provisional Application Order Form with sketches, patent search results or copies of prior art patents, payment, and any other necessary information. Please note that provisional patents typically take 3+ weeks to file after payment has been received, but may take longer if there is a waiting list. We will advise you of an anticipated filing date upon receipt of your order.