About US Provisional Applications:
Provisional applications for a patent are used to establish a priority date
for whatever they disclose. These applications are not examined, so they cost less
to file. To derive patent coverage from a provisional filing the applicant has
to either file a regular utility application claiming the priority of the
provisional case, or convert the provisional application to a regular one.
Either of these steps has to be taken within a year after filing the provisionoal,.
A provisional application is occasionally a good patent tactic. Usually it
is not. A US
inventor should consider a provisional filing if both of the following
conditions are met::
1) there is an urgent deadline
for putting the product on the market or publishing a technical description of
2) foreign patent applications
will probably be filed if the new product is successful.
In these cases, a provisional can "buy time" to test the market,
do a patent search, and generally to see if the
invention is worth patenting.
There are several traps for the unwary built into the provisional
is a temptation to file too soon, or to file an overly brief description.
If the application fails to describe the invention in enough detail that
someone "ordinarily skilled in the art" can use the
application's description to practice the invention "without undue
experimentation", it does not offer any protection whatever.
This is the same standard applied to regular applications. Because the law
requires this level of completeness, anyone who is ready to prepare a
provisional application is also ready to prepare a regular utility
costs of foreign filings may have to be faced earlier in the process. If international coverage is desired, but there are no
immediate deadlines looming, one is almost always better off filing a
regular application and hoping that the Patent Office starts the
examination during the first year. With some luck, one can get the benefit
of an Examiner's search and evaluation before having to file equivalent
foreign applications or an international application.
good arguments for filing provisionally are all predicated on your being
in a rush. So, how do you minimize the risk of failing to provide an
adequate disclosure of the invention? One approach is to figure that a
provisional is going to be less well organized than the regular application
that follows it. This means that the provisional should be bigger – NOT
smaller. It will have more drawing figures. Not fewer. Good organization
lets one cut down the size of a document. Haste requires either discarding
material (a potentially fatal choice), or putting in everything that’s on
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