A provisional application for patent is the most cost effective way to begin protecting your invention. It establishes your priority to the patent rights for your invention while you put the finishing touches on it, work up your non-provisional patent application, seek funding and do market research.

With a provisional application on file, you can feel safe promoting your invention. Having a provisional application on file also means that you can disclose your invention with everyone on notice that your invention is “patent pending.” Best of all, provisional applications are not published or disclosed by the USPTO so your invention’s secrecy is never compromised.

Provisional applications are less expensive and easier to file than non-provisional patent applications, can be done quickly, and should be done in advance of an invention’s public disclosure (although following a disclosure is still useful). Most importantly, filing a provisional application establishes an official filing date with the USPTO. Having the early filing date with the USPTO is the most important determinant in our new “First-Inventor-to-File” patent system.

Plus, if you significantly improve or change your invention after filing your provisional application, you can simply file a subsequent provisional application with the changes and improvements. Due to the low cost of the provisional application, it is economically feasible to continue to file provisional for each improvement to your invention. Then, when you are ready to pursue the non-provisional, you can combine the multiple provisional applications into the non-provisional application, as long as your first provisional application sufficiently details the invention that ultimately appears in your non-provisional application, leaving you eligible for your earliest filing date.

Most importantly, provisional applications aren’t expensive or resource intensive. This means that, if you decide not to move forward with a non-provisional and your provisional expires (1 year after filing), you didn’t lose much time or money. Best of all, your invention was never disclosed to the public since provisional application filings are kept confidential by the USPTO.


If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.

Yuri Eliezer heads the intellectual property practice group at Founders Legal. As an entrepreneur who saw the importance of early-stage patent protection, Yuri founded SmartUp®. Clients he has served include Microsoft, Cisco, Cox, AT&T, General Electric, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Coca-Cola.

Source: Smartup Legal