Many businesses and inventors use provisional patent applications as a first step in protecting their invention. Filing provisional patent application is an optional step. If you are at a stage where you might have complete information about your invention then you can directly go for complete specification. However, if you are still in a testing phase and does not have the complete information about your invention, then filing a provisional patent application is a good idea.
To make that decision, it helps to understand some of the benefits of filing a provisional patent application. Below here are listed some major ones.
- Establish Filing Date: Under “First-to-File” system which is followed by almost all countries, the person with the earliest date of filing gets the patent. Filing a provisional patent application helps to establish an early filing date.
- Buy time to assess viability of Invention: Once you file the provisional patent application, you have a year before you must file for a regular patent. This provides an inventor additional time to work out the kinks or issues of an invention, and test its commercial viability.
- Lower cost: The filing fee for a provisional patent application is considerably lesser than a Non-Provisional or Complete Patent Application. This helps to save inventor or business the burden of high cost in the short run.
- Easier and faster process: The technical disclosure requirements for a provisional patent application are much less stringent. This results in usually lesser time and money to prepare and file the provisional application. Further, a provisional patent application has less formal filing requirements. For example, when a non-provisional patent application is filed all inventors must submit declaration documentation; however with a provisional patent application, there is no such requirement. Furthermore, a provisional patent application is immediately accepted by PTO without any examination.
- Claim your invention: Filing a provisional patent application authorizes a business to claim “patent pending” status for the period of its validity. This can be used to deter competitors from stealing or copying your invention.
- Reduces risk of theft: Unlike regular patents, provisional patent applications are kept confidential and are not published. So your invention is still a secret, if you wish to keep it that way.
All we can say is that filing provisional patent application is a prudent and wise step as it can help inventors in many ways. So, if you are not much prepared with your invention and there are some leg works those are yet to be completed filing provisional patent application is a good idea.