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[VIDEO] The Difference Between Provisional vs Non Provisional Patent

Rich Goldstein

Founder & Principal Patent Attorney
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If you have an idea you want to protect, since you’re here now, I’ll assume you already thought about applying for a patent. You’ve probably found out that the application process is lengthy and complicated, riddled with difficult to understand terms. The terms “provisional” and “non provisional patent”  are crucial aspects to understand about the patent process… and the reason why you’re here now reading this article. 

(Keep reading)

A provisional patent can give your idea priority, and better protect your intellectual property.  However, it can be difficult to decipher what a provisional patent is, what provisional applications entail, and the right time to apply. 

Before you learn how to maximize the time between preparation and examination costs… while maximizing the time you have to refine your invention, you must first know… 

The Difference Between Provisional & Non Provisional Patents

Non provisional patents are normally referred to simply as patents or utility patents. They are the standard way to protect your idea. A Provisional patent, however, can act as the step between conceptualizing your idea and being granted a patent. 

A provisional application does not get viewed by the patent office, yet it does establish an early filing date. An early filing date in the patent application process gives your idea a priority date.

If someone with an idea similar to yours applies for a patent after your provisional patent, your idea will take precedent. With a provisional application, you don’t have to wait for the full utility patent to be filed for your idea to be protected.

Click “Play” on this video, then continue reading.

Features of a Provisional Patent

One main feature of a provisional patent is it provides the label of “patent pending”. Once you submit a provisional application, you are granted a 1-year patent pending status. This can give your idea more merit and make it more intriguing to potential investors, partners, and distributors. They’re also simpler applications to process. 

The full non provisional patent application process can be costly and lengthy. If you want more time to be sure of your idea (and come up with the capital for the full process), a provisional patent can help avoid higher costs for the short term while work on your patent project continues.

Pros and Cons of a Provisional Patent

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Because a provisional patent establishes an early filing date, it may seem like the best course of action. However, careful consideration of all the pros and cons will help you find which process is best for your goals and circumstances. 

“What are the ‘Pros’ of a Provisional Patent?”

Provisional patents are best for securing an early patent filing date, without the full investment of funds associated with the non provisional patent process. These provisional patents are less of a financial strain if cash flow is tight. Your application will not be reviewed by the patent office, therefore associated fees with the full patent examination will not occur.

“What are the Cons of a Provisional Patent?”

Some inventors want the extra year that provisional patent grants to maximize their ideas. Some inventors, however, want to start the non provisional patent application process as soon as possible. 

Provisional patent applications delay the time of your patent application review; therefore “delaying” the process of your patent being granted.

“What are the Features of a Non Provisional Patent”

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While provisional patent applications are not reviewed by the patent office, non provisional patent applications are. If you are confident in your idea and are ready to begin the journey to receiving your patent certificate, then a non provisional patent application will get you on your way.

Immediately upon filing, your application enters the processing and examination queue. The examination process can be long.  Fortunately, there are ways to speed up the process. 

Some methods involve the age of the patent filers, the goal of your patent, or other countries where you filed. There are some tracks where you can pay to “skip the line,” which can get you a final deposition within about a year of filing.

While a provisional patent grants patent-pending status to your idea during the 1 year of its eligibility, a non provisional patent provides this status during its entire period of review, which can span longer than 1 or even up to 2 years. Once your patent is examined and approved you will have patent protection for 20 years.

“What are the Pros and Cons of a Non Provisional Patent?”

Pros of a Non Provisional Patent 

Filing a non provisional patent grant will begin the process where your idea is reviewed and (hopefully) your patent is granted. While a provisional patent delays this process to give you more time to flesh out your idea, a non provisional application will begin this patent grant process immediately.

Cons of a Non Provisional Patent 

The process of patent approval comes with the costs associated with filing, review, and examination. With non provisional patent applications, you are responsible for these costs much sooner. File your non provisional patent application when you understand the costs and are confident in your idea.

“Can I Extend Time Between Patent Costs?”

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Patent protection is an investment in your invention. You will face many preparation and examination costs as you journey through the patent process. You may choose to file a provisional patent application before filing a non provisional patent application to delay patent examination costs

Preparation Costs

Preparation costs include the logistics of filing a provisional patent application. These costs can also be extended to marketing and doing actual business with your ideas. This is estimated to be in the thousands of dollars.

Patent Examination Costs 

Examination fees are due after the non provisional patent application is submitted. These are related to the efforts of your patent office examiner assessing your patent application. They can range in thousands of dollars.

If you would prefer to spread out the costs you will incur in your provisional or non provisional application journey, then filing a provisional patent application may be your best option. A provisional patent application spaces out the time of these costs could be a good idea for you. 

You may be more concerned that your patent is granted as quickly as possible. If so, you should consider how you can cover this investment as soon as possible.

The Filing Strategies

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Your filing strategy will depend on what you want to achieve with your patent and in what time frame. You can gain the benefits of both provisional and non provisional patents with corresponding nonprovisional patent applications. 

This means applying for both within the same year. This allows you to maximize the time between preparation and examination costs… while maximizing the time you have to refine your invention.

The gap between a provisional patent and a non provisional patent not only saves costs, it also allows preparation time. In this time, you can market your idea, test out its ability to sell and attract attention, and adjust where necessary.

If after a year you don’t feel confident about the viability of your product, you don’t have to file the non provisional patent application, and incur further examination costs. On the other hand, if you are securing deals and you have more opportunities than you know what to do with, you can file the non provisional patent application sooner.

If you already feel confident, already have experience, and are ready to begin the patent grant process, then filing a non provisional patent application as soon as possible may be the right choice.

The decision to apply for a provisional or non provisional patent typically becomes crystal clear during a patent evaluation – It’s the first place to start.

“What is the Patent Evaluation Process?”

Most attorneys overlook this critical first step to securing your patent. We begin with this signature step so your valuable time and resources are not wasted on a patent you may not need in the first place. Also, it’s an opportunity to ensure your business goals are aligned with our research.

The patent evaluation gives the Goldstein Team a chance to collect the right information about your idea. We use this information to inform our research, which in turn helps us to recommend the best course of action for you. Our aim is to time to learn as much as possible about your idea and your goals to best guide you through the types and intellectual property ownership and protection can help you achieve those goals.

We recognize your situation, motivations, and goals are unique. Our patent evaluation helps us understand the nuances of your situation so we can develop an appropriate strategy together with you.

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While deciding the best course of action may be difficult and confusing, we patiently listen to you, help you understand all your options, and then follow the best path to protect your valuable idea.

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