It generally takes less time and money to file a Provisional Application because the patent filing fee is less expensive than in the case of a Non-Provisional Patent Application and the technical requirements of the application are simplified.
If a dispute arises over invention ownership and you have filed a corresponding Non-Provisional Patent Applications within twelve months of the Provisional Application the USPTO will consider as official filing date, the earlier provisional application. This offers you increased protection from disputes by establishing earlier ownership.
Because the U.S system is now more a “First-to-file” system and not anymore a “First-to-Invent”, a Provisional Application is extremely important to protect your invention. It is of course still important to have all your notes, journals and prototypes proving the work you have done on your invention and the timeline. But it is now more important to be the first one filing in an application to patent the invention. The easiest, cheapest and fastest way to make sure someone else doesn’t patent your invention first is to file a Provisional Application for Patent.
A Provisional Application offers you twelve months in which your invention is covered and you can take the time to assess the commercial potential of your idea before investing into filing for a Non-Provisional Patent Application.
Filing a Provisional Patent gives you the possibility and the right to use the “Patent Pending” label for your invention. This was not the case before the provisional application existed, when you had to file for a full patent in order to be able to use this label.
Filing a Provisional Application literary extends the time of protection from 20 years, offered by the full patent, to 21 years. This happens because with a Provisional Application protection starts with the date of your provisional filing.
Because Provisional Applications are not being published, filing for one rises no confidentiality issues regarding your application.
A Provisional Application is accepted immediately and it is reviewed by USPTO examiners only when you file a corresponding Non-Provisional Application.