The even greater risk is that the USPTO follows a first come, first served basis, meaning that if someone gets in to register an invention or design that is substantially similar to your own before you receive your patent, you can't register yours. Fortunately, the Provisional Patent helps to ease some of the problems that come from traditional patents and commercial activities.
The Provisional Patent is an application that you can file to claim a patent pending status. This status allows you protection for 12 months. In that time, you can seek out manufacturers, sell the product, and even get necessary prototypes developed to further the upcoming application. So long as you file the actual patent before the end of the 12 months, the USPTO treats the patent as having been applied for on the date that the Provisional Patent was filed. This way, if someone files a similar patent after seeing your invention or product at work, you'll still have patent protection.
It is faster and more affordable to file a Provisional Patent, since it is not nearly as complicated to complete the application. But it's no guarantee that you will get a patent. It's just a technique for protecting your invention or design while you complete the work on your invention or product, secure financing, and make your full non Provisional Patent application. A Provisional Patent application can be filled out and mailed to the patent office, or filled out online at the USPTO.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.