So you have a ground-breaking invention—congratulations! So what’s the next step? Maybe someone told you about a Provisional Patent—and that you can get one more quickly and more easily than a Non-Provisional one. That’s true, but it’s not the full story. A Provisional Patent Application can be a useful thing to do if you want to start the patent Application process quickly, securing an earlier filing date for your final patent. But that’s only part of the story—you still need to file the Non-Provisional Application in order to have your final patent issued. Here are some important considerations when deciding whether or not to complete a Provisional Patent Application.

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Do You Want an Earlier Filing Date?

Although a Provisional Patent Application is never examined by the USPTO, and never results in the issuance of a patent, it can secure an earlier filing date for the final patent. In contrast to the Non-Provisional Patent Application, the Provisional Patent Application is much more straightforward and easier to complete. Because of this, filing the Provisional Application can allow you to start the patent process sooner than if you were to wait to file the full Non-Provisional Application.

But why would you want an earlier filing date? You might consider filing a Provisional Patent Application to ensure that the patentability of your invention or your ability to patent it abroad doesn’t expire. Remember, though, that you will need to submit a proper non Provisional Patent Application to the USPTO to begin the actual patent process. Note that it is only possible to file a Provisional Patent Application for utility patents.

Will You Be Ready to File the Non-Provisional Application within 12 Months?

Remember that filing the Non-Provisional Application is the only way to secure a patent. After you file a Provisional Patent Application, you have 12 months to file the full Non-Provisional Application, in order for the earlier filing date to be preserved. If you had previously filed a Provisional Patent Application for the same invention, the Provisional Patent Application extends the timeframe in which you can submit the Non-Provisional Application, meaning that the term of protection begins once you have filed the Provisional Patent Application. However, weigh the pros and cons. Note that the time elapsed between submitting the provisional and Non-Provisional Patent Application is added to the 20-year term given for utility patents. So although the term of protection can start earlier with the help of a Provisional Patent Application, it also means that this term will end that much earlier.

For more help with the patent process, visit our Patent Center.

Get started Create Your Provisional Patent Application Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.

Get started Create Your Provisional Patent Application Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.