How to Use an Online Provisional Application to Protect Your Invention
Independent inventors often face an uphill battle: how to showcase their invention to potential manufacturers without fearing that the patent may be “stealed.”
Congress has provided a solution to this dilemma by granting independent inventors the ability to protect their inventions through a temporary placeholder application known as a provisional patent application (PPA). This temporary placeholder application serves as the gateway for independent inventors to secure protection for their ideas.
What is a PPA?
Power purchase agreements (PPAs) are contracts between renewable energy developers and electricity suppliers that enable buyers to acquire a share of a power plant’s energy production over an extended period. PPAs are essential for the advancement of renewable energy projects since they help ensure companies don’t suffer commodity price fluctuations and may provide tax benefits as well.
PPA structures vary, but most involve the seller providing a fixed number of megawatt-hours each year at an agreed upon price for an established period. This type of PPA is known as a physical PPA and eliminates the uncertainty that market conditions might alter the value/price of the contract in the future.
The pricing of a PPA is typically determined by average monthly or yearly prices, but it can also be affected by market-based factors like daily peak energy rates or options contracts that trigger payouts if certain criteria are met. No matter how a PPA is priced, it must account for the risk that either the project won’t deliver its agreed level of power or some portion will be diverted away from the grid.
Furthermore, a PPA should be designed to address any risks caused by changes in legal regulations or tariffs that could impact the project. These modifications could make the venture less competitive on the market or negatively affect its credit quality.
Management of risks is paramount in an increasingly dynamic global energy production and demand landscape. To mitigate these concerns, select a PPA structure that offers flexibility to accommodate these potential issues.
A successful PPA should include an effective testing regime that meets both the seller’s and offtaker’s performance targets. Ideally, these results should be certified by an independent engineer for verification purposes.
Another essential feature is a provision that permits either party to terminate the PPA early. This is especially helpful in case unforeseen circumstances arise and both parties cannot agree on terms of termination. Furthermore, make sure there is an agreed payment for early termination fees in case there are any.
Preparing Invention Drawings
Drawings are essential components of your patent application. They help the patent office comprehend your invention and assess whether or not it’s novel. Furthermore, drawings provide insight into what makes up your creation for potential manufacturers and customers alike.
In order to create your patent drawings, you must adhere to certain guidelines set by the USPTO. These include paper type and size/format of lines as well as fonts used – all regulated by the USPTO.
If you are unfamiliar with these guidelines, a professional draftsman or drafting company may be able to assist. Prices for such services can vary based on complexity of drawings but typically range from $75-$150 per sheet.
Generally, drawings for your patent should include as many views of the invention as necessary to demonstrate how it functions. This can include exploded views and blown-up partial views, provided they all face in the same direction and on one page.
Each drawing should be presented on a scale that makes it easy for patent office employees to assess when reproduced or copied at 2/3 their submitted size. Terms such as “full scale” or “half-scale” cannot be accepted because their meanings are lost when reduced in size.
Additionally, include a reference numeral in each view of your invention so that reviewers can quickly refer to each part of the drawing when reading your patent application description. This is especially beneficial if your invention involves an intricate mechanical or electrical device.
It’s also wise to include any charts or flowcharts created to explain your invention. These can be beneficial in demonstrating how it improves upon prior art solutions or adds new elements. Doing this helps the examiner comprehend your idea better, increasing the likelihood that you will be granted a patent.
Filing a PPA
Provisional patent applications (PPAs) are an invaluable resource for inventors seeking to protect their invention rights. Filing a PPA can be done online and typically costs less than filing non-provisional patent applications.
It is also an effective way to assess the commercial potential of your invention before fully committing to the patent process. You can label both your invention and any marketing materials as “patent pending” for up to 12 months prior to filing a full application for patent protection.
A PPA offers several advantages, the primary being an early priority filing date that protects your invention against others claiming prior art and ensuring you remain the inventor. Unfortunately, since provisional applications only last one year, you must convert them to non-provisional patents within that time or risk losing your idea.
It is essential to take your time evaluating your invention’s commercial potential and thoroughly research the prior art before filing a patent application. You can do this by searching the USPTO database or Google Patents to see if any similar products have already been patented.
Your PPA must provide a thorough description of your invention. This should include an understandable breakdown of what the invention is, how it functions and why it’s novel and special. Additionally, include drawings that illustrate its design elements or functionalities.
Depending on your industry and how much detail is necessary in your PPA, you may also wish to provide proof that a person or organization has made an identical or similar invention. This can be done through registration evidence that includes the name of the inventor or attorney.
To serve your documents legally in either the United States or Australia, you must submit evidence such as a post office box. Furthermore, make sure your email address is valid for receiving correspondence from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Getting an Early Priority Filing Date
An online provisional application (PPA) is an invaluable asset during the early stages of a patent application. It grants your invention an initial filing date, providing an advantage over others working on similar concepts.
Priority benefits, however, are determined by the quality of your invention disclosure in a Patent Proposal Agreement (PPA). In addition to providing an exhaustive account of your invention in detail, make sure the PPA includes any drawings needed for formal patent application (like electrical diagrams or mechanical drawings).
Once you have a clear vision for your invention, it’s time to file for patent protection. This could either be either a US utility patent application or PCT international application.
To maximize your priority benefit under the PPA, you must file your non-provisional patent application within 12 months of its effective filing date. Furthermore, your non-provisional application must be filed in either the United States or a designated foreign country and must utilize all PPA benefits available to you.
Additionally, you cannot refile your PPA in a way that could grant an earlier priority filing date than originally claimed. This is prohibited under 37 CFR 1.78 and could have serious repercussions.
Refiling can have several major drawbacks, one being that it may delay your US and Conventional application filing dates. This is because the deadline for Convention applications is 12 months from the earliest provisional application; if you refile without officially abandoning the first one, this deadline remains unchanged.
Therefore, it’s best to avoid refiling your PPA and instead ensure you obtain a solid patent application with enough details for potential litigation.
Students with innovative ideas often benefit from early priority filing dates for their invention. Not only does this ensure your IP rights, but it also gives them time to research the market and assess any potential commercial opportunities that might exist for their creation.