Provisional Patents

patent-pending-stampSince June 8, 1995, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has offered inventors the option of filing a provisional application for patent which was designed to provide a lower-cost first patent filing in the United States and to give U.S. applicants the ability to obtain an earlier filing date without patent term starting to run. Patent term does not start to run until the filing of a non-provisional patent application.

A provisional application for patent is a U.S. national application for patent filed in the USPTO. It allows filing without a formal patent claim, oath or declaration. The focus is on describing the invention as completely as possible, and many formalistic requirements of a non-provisional patent application are unnecessary to satisfy. A provisional patent application also provides the means to establish an early effective filing date in a later filed non-provisional patent application. It also allows the term “Patent Pending” to be applied in connection with the description of the invention.

A provisional patent application has a pendency lasting 12 months from the date the provisional application is filed. The 12-month pendency period cannot be extended for any reason. Therefore, an applicant who files a provisional patent application must file a corresponding non-provisional patent application during the 12-month pendency period of the provisional application in order to benefit from the earlier filing of the provisional application.


The benefits of a provisional patent application, as well as appropriate usage and pitfalls to watch out for are common topics of discussion here on To learn more about provisional patent applications please see:


There is No Such Thing as a Provisional Patent — First and foremost, there is no such thing as a provisional patent. It is absolutely critical to understand that a provisional application will never mature into an issued patent! Ultimately, if you are going to want to obtain a patent you will need to file a non-provisional utility patent application. Thus, a provisional patent application is best viewed as an economical first step on the path to a patent. CLICK HERE to Continue Reading.


 The Benefits of a Provisional Patent Application — There is a great misunderstanding among many inventors and entrepreneurs regarding what many simply refer to as a “provisional patent.”  The first thing that needs to be said is that there is no such thing as a “provisional patent.”  Instead, what you file is called a provisional patent application.  Like any other patent application, a provisional patent application is effective to stop the clock relative to so-called statutory bars and immediately upon filing a provisional patent application you can say you have a “patent pending.”  CLICK HERE to Continue Reading


The Good, Bad & Ugly: Truth About Provisional Patent ApplicationsPoorly done provisional patent applications are almost certainly useless for their intended purpose, but can be used against the inventor later as a weapon to demonstrate there was no invention, or at least that the invention had not ripened past the idea stage at the critical moment the invention was memorialized at the time of filing the provisional patent application.  Therefore, it is critically important to understand what is required in a provisional patent application and not to fall prey to those who knowingly or unknowingly prey on unsophisticated inventors. CLICK HERE to Continue Reading


Should I File a Patent Application Before Licensing an Invention? — Without a patent pending you also don’t have anything to license other than an idea that lacks tangible boundaries. While that is not always an impediment to moving forward, the further you can develop your idea the better. The more tangible the more valuable. So an idea is worth something to some people, but an idea that has taken more shape and is really an invention is worth even more. An invention that has been defined in a provisional patent application is worth more, and of course an issued patent takes away much of the risk and questions associated with whether your invention is new and unique. But now we are getting ahead of ourselves. The business of inventing needs to be considered a marathon — not a sprint. Take things one step at a time, proceed deliberately and invest little by little and only so long as it makes financial sense. CLICK HERE to Continue Reading


Justified Paranoia: Confidentiality Before and After Patent Filings — Many inventors will seek to obtain some kind of patent protection so they can stake their claim to their invention.  This is a good strategy because when you file a patent application you are articulating your invention and getting on record with a filing date that cannot be taken away from you with respect to whatever is in your patent application.  A provisional patent application can be a great first step particularly if you are going to need some assistance later to develop your invention because whatever is disclosed in the application is protected as your invention as of the filing date, assuming of course you ultimately get patent claims issued. CLICK HERE to Continue Reading


For more information on patent drafting please see these other articles.