Inventors: Basics You Need To Understand About Provisional Patent Applications

A provisional patent application automatically goes abandoned after one year from the date of filing. Therefore, inventors must file a regular patent application claiming priority to their provisional patent application before the one year expires.
Inventors often ask “Then why should I file a provisional patent application if it goes abandoned after one year?” Denver patent attorney Mark Trenner offers these four very good reasons for filing a provisional patent application:

  1. Filing a provisional patent application may be a good idea if you are watching your budget. As you will see below, provisional patent applications can be filed relatively inexpensively. After you file a provisional patent application, you can mark your invention (and any marketing materials describing your invention) as “Patent Pending.” This shows customers, competitors, and potential investors that you are serious about your invention.
  2. You have up to one year to test-market your invention before investing in a regular patent application. If your invention is a success, you can file a regular patent application and claim priority to your provisional patent application. If after 9 or 10 months you realize that your invention just isn’t being received that well, you can drop it and you haven’t spent that much money yet.
  3. If you will be making changes to your invention, the provisional patent application at least identifies those aspects of your invention that belong to you at the time of filing. Any changes and improvements can then be added to the regular patent application without having to file a separate application.
  4. A provisional patent application can also be evidence that the invention belonged to you if someone you share your invention with later claims that the invention is theirs.


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