Why File a Provisional Patent Application

It goes without saying that most inventors are eager to protect their most recent invention.  

One question that might cross their mind in the earliest stages is “Do I need a provisional patent application?”

The truth is that there is no definitive answer to this question. Whether you need to file a provisional patent application depends entirely on your individual circumstances. First, let’s look at why you might need one in the first place.

A provisional patent application or PPA, is a kind of patent application that the applicant can use for securing a filing date for his or her invention, with a low filing fee. In other words, it’s basically the first initial step one can take to ultimately receive a patent.

Benefit of a Provisional Patent Application

The major benefit of filing for a provisional patent application is that it provides applicants or investors a one-year place holder to file a non-provisional utility patent application. This place holder gives applicants or inventors the time and opportunity to experiment more with their invention, make changes and improvements, search for financial backers, take care of licensing, evaluate sales potential, and more.

The applicant can label the invention and develop packaging and marketing, under the status  “patent pending.” This serves as a public notification that the inventor has already filed a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the application is still pending.

After the end of the one-year period, if the inventor no longer wishes to apply for  patent protection, they can just stop the process. The PPA will automatically expire. Once this happens, the invention is no longer under “patent pending” status.

Provisional patent application Vs. Non-provisional patent application

A provisional patent application is very different from a non-provisional patent application. It is important to understand that when you file for a provisional patent application, it does not develop into a non-provisional patent application with time. This means that you will have to file a non-provisional patent application separately, within one year of filing a PPA, if you would like seek patent protection.

Unlike a PPA, a non-provisional patent application will potentially grant you patent protection. Upon filing, the applicant or inventor may claim the benefit of the PPA’s filing date. This means that any subject matter that is claimed in the non-provisional patent application and supported by the previously-filed PPA can receive the PPA filing date’s benefit.

When a provisional patent application is preferable

Any inventor knows that inventions take time to develop into a final product. The idea that you initially conceived may not always be the one you wish to patent.

At the same time, it is important that you protect the initial invention. In such cases, filing a provisional patent application is a good idea since it will allow you to continue working and making improvements on your invention with the peace of mind, knowing that you can claim the earlier filing date of your PPA for subsequent versions of the invention included in your non-provisional patent application.

Another key step you can take to protect your invention is to get sound advice from an attorney who specializes in Intellectual Property Law. The attorneys at Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig have years of experience helping clients protect their intellectual property and have gone head-to-head with some of the biggest firms in the country, winning landmark cases.

If you have questions about patent applications or any other issue surrounding intellectual property protection, contact us today. 


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Posted in: Intellectual Property - Patents

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