In securing patents for new inventions, America is a first-to-file rather than first-to-invent country. This means that no matter who actually invented that great new gadget, legal favor goes to whomever was first to successfully file a patent application. So, if you're working on an invention, it's critical that you begin efforts to secure patent protection as soon as possible, even if your invention is still in the early design stages. The best way to land protection early on is by filing a provisional patent application.
In 1995, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) began offering inventors the option of filing a provisional application for a patent. This allowed innovators to secure some level of protection while working toward the requirements for a full non-provisional patent for their inventions. Among the benefits of a provisional patent are:
- Reduced initial costs: Filing a provisional patent application initially will save you time and money, as it's less expensive and less time consuming than filing a non-provisional application. That's because a provisional application does not require a specific format and lacks the complex claims section included in non-provisional applications.
- Temporarily stopping the clock: Filing a provisional patent application establishes an official US patent application filing date, which affords you some level of protection while you continue to develop your invention and assess its commercial potential before committing to the higher financial and time costs of filing a non-provisional patent application.
- Getting a head start: With a provisional patent application, you're better able to begin commercial promotion of your invention without the threat of having it stolen and marketed by a competitor.
When filing a provisional patent application, however, it's important that you understand the limitations. Provisional applications are not examined by the US Patent Office and they expire in one year. To ensure continuous protection, you must file a non-provisional patent application before the 12-month deadline hits.
Also, don't let the relative ease of filing a provisional patent application tempt you into going the DIY route. Filing patent applications, whether provisional or non-provisional, takes a level of expertise that most first-time inventors lack. That's why the most successful inventors hire trusted attorneys from the start. Having an attorney file both your provisional and non-provisional patent applications will save you time, effort and money in the long run. Don't let the competition get the jump on you. Begin protecting your invention today with a call to Orlando's Daniel Law Offices at 866-37PATENT.