Do I need a Provisional Patent Application or a Non-Provisional Patent Application?

Do I need a Provisional Patent Application or a Non-Provisional Patent Application?

Every entrepreneur knows from the outset that they will face some obstacles when launching their startup. Key among them is proving to investors that their idea is unique and valuable.

 While patents are still the best way to demonstrate how unique your idea is, they are sometimes costly and may end up taking a lot of time. However, with a provisional patent application, you can begin to enjoy patent rights without having to wait or pay for an expensive non-provisional patent.

 But what is a provisional patent application or a non-provisional patent? In this article, we will discuss the differences between provisional patent applications and non-provisional patent applications. We will also walk you through the legal and business consideration of patents to help you make the right choice when selecting a patent application process for your business.

 So what is a provisional Patent Application? 

A provisional patent application is a preliminary application that allows an inventor to file an informal and incomplete patent application. It is a temporary placeholder application designed to help you secure your patent rights as soon as possible. In other words, you are “reserving your spot” as a patent owner for a particular invention.

 A provisional patent lasts only one year, thus allowing you to develop your product or test your market before you file for a non-provisional patent. A provisional patent is also not searched or examined by the USPTO and costs less compared to a non-provisional patent application.

 What about a non-Provisional patent application? 

Filing a non-provisional patent application is the first step toward acquiring a legally recognized patent. It’s typically longer more formal, and difficult to file. Non-provisional patents last 20 years and typically one to three years before issue. They are also examined by the USPTO for patent infringement purposes.

 Why file a provisional patent application?

While both patent applications can protect your idea, you might want to file a provisional patent application when starting as a small business. Here are a few reasons why you should consider applying for the provisional patent application.

 1. Budget 

Provisional patent applications have lower filing fees, no formatting requirements, and fewer formalities. This makes them inexpensive and possible to be filed more quickly than non-provisional applications.

 If you don’t have enough cash to pay an attorney to prepare a non-provisional application, filing a provisional will allow you to apply for a patent application at a budget within a short period.   

Once filed, you will have one year to determine whether the cost of filing a non-provisional application is worthwhile, so you don’t have to waste your funds on a patent that is not worth it. 

2. If you need more time to refine your idea

If you are worried about sharing your incomplete idea or need more time to refine your idea, selecting a provisional patent application is the right way to go. A provisional patent application will help preserve the confidentiality of your work while still allowing you to share it with the investors or the public.

3. Time to assess the value of your idea

Filing a provisional patent allows you to assess the value of your idea or invention before you file for a non-provisional patent. For example, you may notice that your market is too small or your idea isn’t as profitable as you thought. A provisional application can help you keep the costs low as you test your market as you may opt-out by not filing the cost of pursuing a non-provisional patent if the cost may outweigh the benefit.

 As seen, a provisional patent application is a great way to protect your invention when starting a business. It is cheaper and quicker to file compared to a non-provisional patent.

If you have any questions about this topic or any other, feel free to contact us at Millar IP Law. We are always happy to help! Good Luck!


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