Utility Patents, Part II

Sean R Mize asked:

Provisional Utility Patents

Provisional utility patents are common for inventors who need a quick patent, but do not have time to wait for a regular one. By filing a provisional patent, the invention is granted a “temporary” patent until a more detailed application can be filed.

A provisional patent application is seen as the low budget version of the patent process. It is usually carried out by companies or inventors wanting to find a cheaper way to file a utility application with the Patents and Trademark Office. The reason many people prefer to file a provisional application is due to the fact that a provisional application can be used when an invention has to be altered or changed during the life of the invention, and it can decrease the amount of money spent during the patent process. The provisional application is also used by inventors to increase the number of years available on the patent. For these reasons, many people will file a provisional application rather than a regular patent application.

Like any other type of patent application, the Patent and Trademark Office would be responsible for provisional applications. Some things to consider include:

o They are no longer valid one year after they are filed.

o Since they have such a short termination date, the process involved in a provisional application is not as intense or as complicated as a non-provisional application.

o The Patent Office does not complete an in-depth review of these applications when they are filed.

Other differences between a provisional and a regular utility patent application are seen in the information to submit with them.

As stated previously, normal patent applications must be accompanied by detailed drawings of the invention the applicants are requesting a patent for; the drawings in a provisional application are not required to be as detailed as with a standard utility application. Another major difference with a provisional application is the use of claims. Claims must be filed with completing a standard application, but in the case of a provisional application, claims due not have to be sent in with the application. Usually a provisional patent application is used as a queue holder for a regular or nonprovisional utility application that is later submitted after the provisional application expires. Think of the provisional application as protecting the space on the line for the nonprovisional application to be later submitted.

Make sure that you read this section carefully to see if a utility patent may be of use to your business.

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