What Is A Provisional Patent?


What Is A Provisional Patent?

Definition of a Patent

A Patent is a right of a title given by the government to an inventor or group of inventors for their innovation. It allows the individual or group to enjoy exclusive rights including financial gain that arises from the use of the innovation. To get a patent, an inventor can follow two routes: File a Non-Provisional Patent Application or submit a provisional patent application.

Difference between a patent and a provisional patent

A non-provisional patent application triggers that official start of the process to determine whether an invention is novel and thus patentable. A provisional patent, on the other hand, is a legal document filed with a government authority; it sets an early filing time for the innovation. However, the provisional patent will not always necessarily mature into a patent. Typically, the inventor or inventors are given a period of 12 months within which they have to file all the necessary material including drawings that would be used to determine whether a patent can be issued for the innovation. It is important to note that the inventor who has filed a provisional application still has to file the non-provisional patent application once they are ready with the full details required to progress the idea to patent review.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of A Provisional Patent?

A provisional patent allows an inventor time to further develop their invention while locking in the idea with the patent issuing authority so that no one else can claim it. If a provisional patent application progresses into a patent, the filing date for the provisional patent will be used as the first date of the patent and would thus negate any patent application filed by others after that first date. The filing fees for the provisional patent are also significantly lower than those for a non-provisional patent. An inventor can also trade using the innovation with an indicator showing that the patent is pending.

The provisional patent application, however, has some disadvantages. If a non-provisional patent application is not filed within 12 months of the first filing date, the developer will be unable to claim the benefits of the innovation from the first filing date. And since the information on the provisional patent would be public, other can use the idea, improve it and file for a patent on it. The inventor may also be barred from including significant information that was not included in the provisional application and consequently, the first date for the improvements would not automatically back-date to the first filing time, but would only apply as at the date of filing the non-provisional application. Since a patent has a life span is typically 20 years, a provisional application means that the inventor will lose out on at least 12 months of the patent life cycle.

Things to do after one has made a provisional patent application

As we have seen, there are many risks to the provisional patent application. To ensure the inventor is protected they have to:

Move with speed to file the non-provisional application.

Where new ideas to improve the invention are identified, refile the provisional patent application to ensure these new ideas are protected and cannot be claimed by other parties.