A provisional application for patent establishes your priority filing date with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and lets you immediately start labeling your invention “patent pending.”
There is a myth that a way to ensure your invention is to send yourself an email with your invention notes, plans, etc. and that will prove you had the idea first by associating the mailing date to the invention. The “first-to-invent” principle cannot be proven this way.
The best way to prove “first-to-invent” is to keep a log book with details of your work, with every step of your invention and as often as possible have the entries witnessed and signed by others. Especially if you are working as part of a team, each member should entry his or her own notes and emphasize their role in the discovery.
Better than a log book and the option of proving “first-to-invent” it is the alternative of proving “first-to-file” because the first person to be officially registered as filing to patent an invention always has more chances to be considered patent owner. Provisional Applications are an easy, low cost and fast way of declaring your intent to patent an invention and can keep your invention safe from the competition.
Back in 1876, when the telephone was invented, Alexander Graham Bell beat his competition to the USPTO by only two hours and after a long legal battle he was awarded the patent for the telephone. I bet you don’t know who the other inventor was. So make sure you give as much attention to protecting your invention as you give to actually creating it.
Benefits of Provisional Application for Patent
Filing in a provisional application for patent offers you a series of important benefits:
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.
What is a Provisional Application for Patent?
The Provisional Application for Patent is the best solution to verify the potential success of your invention on the market before investing in a full patent, without the risk of somebody stealing your idea.
Before 1995, in order to make sure nobody would steal their idea, inventors had two choices: to build the invention themselves or directly file for a full patent to make sure they could tell someone else about their invention without the risk of being stolen from them. As you can imagine, both options were time consuming and expensive. It was really difficult to build a prototype and preparing a full patent application could and still can cost thousands of dollars.
So how to test if your idea is worth the investment without the risk of being stolen? The perfect answer is the Provisional Application for Patent which has been designed by the USPTO to provide a “lower cost patent filing.” A Provisional Application allows inventors to secure their invention by obtaining an initial filing date with low costs and much less time and effort. It also allows them to use the phrase “patent pending” as a warning for those who might be tempted to try to benefit from their work by copying it.
A Provisional Application gives to any inventor that has filed it, one year to test the invention and its market potential and eventually find some additional funding before starting the process of a full patent application. In addition, when the inventor files the corresponding Non-Provisional Patent Application, it takes over the initial filing date of the Provisional Application. If testing your invention shows it is not worth to pursue a full patent, you can simply abandon it. It is important to keep in mind that you need to decide if you proceed with a full patent application before the end of the 12 months covered by the Provisional Application. After 12 months, if you have publicly disclosed any information about your invention in any way, you might lose the possibility of obtaining a patent.
A design patent will protect your creation for 14 years from the date the patent has been granted, it is not renewable and does not require maintenance fees.
A utility patent will protect your invention for 20 years from the application filing date.
It gives you the right to use the phrase “Patent Pending” in connection with your invention immediately after you have filed the application. Make sure your invention is safe and test it on the market without any risk. File your Provisional Application today. Just answer our intuitive questionnaire and we will take care of the rest for you.
How do you file for a Provisional Application?
Filing for a Provisional Application is extremely easy, as you can see below. With our complete Provisional Application process that takes you step-by-step through each stage you need to pass through:
The first step is to fill in our questionnaire. It is very simple and intuitive, includes help text and examples for every question in order to help you understand better what information we need you to gather for your patent application.
You need to send us an illustration that describes your invention. If you require assistance with this step, you can choose to benefit from our professional illustration services for an additional fee.
At your request we can offer you professional patent search services for prior art meant to make sure your invention is new and unique and it is eligible from this point of view for Provisional Application.
According to the information you are sending us, our system will create your Provisional Application for patent. If you need, we can also offer you the possibility of having your technical drawings created, a patent search performed and your application reviewed by our experts. The next step is to electronically file your application with the USPTO which is also taken care of by our staff. Our customer care specialists are available at each step of the process for any question you might have.
Upon the receipt of the application you will receive a proof of delivery number which you need to keep for your records.
You will receive an official filing receipt from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.