There are two distinct patent applications, the provisional application and the non-provisional application. Of the two, the non-provisional is more involved and costly. This is because that of the two, the non-provisional is the application that begins the United States Patent and Trademark Office patent review process, which can take upwards of 18 months.

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The provisional application merely establishes a filing date and secures a 12-month time frame for the inventor to submit the non-provisional application and begin the review process. During the 12 months, the inventor may claim the “patent pending” label.

Many inventors use the Provisional Patentoption because it allows them time to market their inventions to see if there is a demand and if the invention is worth the hassle of filing a relatively more involved and costly non-provisional application. In addition, the time allows for further tweaking and refining of the invention before the review process. Keep in mind however; an inventor cannot completely overhaul their invention between the applications. Only minor adjustments are allowed.

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