Should You File a Provisional App?

Provisional applications offer an alternative to filing a regular patent application; however, they come with certain limitations.

Provisional applications provide an early filing date, but do not mature into issued patents unless the inventor files a nonprovisional application within 12 months. This makes it challenging for inventors to take advantage of this early filing date if they are still working on their invention.


Provisional applications are the quickest way to receive patent pending status for an invention, however they are only temporary solutions and cannot be extended or renewed. To fully protect their invention, inventors must still file a non-provisional patent application within 12 months in order to gain full protection.

On average, a high-quality provisional application can cost anywhere from $75 to $15,000 depending on who you hire for preparation. Alternatively, you may be able to prepare and file the application yourself at much lower costs.

When composing a provisional application, be sure to thoroughly describe your invention and include all pertinent details. Doing this can increase the likelihood that you will be granted patent protection.

When filling out your provisional application for patent protection, it’s essential to consider the quality of the information provided. Be sure not to miss any important details or components that could be patented by others; thus, using a certified patent attorney is recommended for this step.

Once your application has been filed, be prepared to shell out money for other costs associated with patenting your invention. These could include responding to a rejection letter from the USPTO, speaking with patent examiners in person or via phone, and amending your application if needed.

Many patent applications are rejected, meaning they may not be valid or enforceable. Inventors have the right to appeal these decisions, but must pay additional fees for each appeal.

Another option is to file a provisional application and convert it into a non-provisional one later on. This method is more affordable and gives you more time to market your invention.

Non-provisional application fees usually range between $2,125 and $2030, which is less than filing a provisional app at full cost. This price includes government filing fees for patent and drafting claims as well as any legal expenses incurred.

Though provisional applications may seem inexpensive, it’s essential to remember that they provide limited protection and may be worthless if the patent is never issued. Furthermore, conversion from your provisional app into an effective patent application takes time and money – especially for complex inventions like software or medical devices.


When deciding whether or not to file a provisional app for your invention, there are several things you should take into account. Notably, the priority date of such an application and associated costs must also be taken into consideration.

The priority date of a provisional patent application is the earliest filing date you can claim in any subsequent continuing patent applications filed after it. This date determines which inventor should receive protection if another party files for patent protection for an identical invention.

For instance, if you file a provisional patent application on May 31st 2015 and the first-to-file rule for patent applications is August 20, 2017 (the date of continuation-in-part (CIP)), then your priority date would be July 29th 2015. Please be aware that each country has its own earliest-to-file rule for patents.

Your priority date is an essential factor in assessing the strength of your claims and whether other patent applicants may attempt to invalidate portions or all of them. Therefore, make sure your provisional application includes a thorough description of your invention.

In your provisional application, be sure to include a comprehensive description of your invention as well as all pertinent claims. Doing this is essential in guaranteeing that your patent application will be well-crafted and meet patentability requirements.

Once your provisional application is filed with the USPTO, they will keep it confidential and assign a priority date to it. However, you must convert the application to a regular non-provisional patent application within one year or else risk losing your priority date. Therefore, consulting with an Intellectual Property (IP) lawyer before making this conversion is highly recommended.

The USPTO has created a program through which inventors can gain an early priority date for their inventions by paying a low filing fee and agreeing to disclose the technical subject matter in a searchable collaboration database. Once made public in this database, participants cannot revoke this public availability.


A patent is an essential legal document that grants inventors ownership of their invention, preventing others from copying it. It can also serve as a marketing tool for the inventor, helping attract potential investors or customers.

Before an invention can be patented, several criteria must be fulfilled: non-obviousness, novelty and industrial applicability. The initial criteria of non-obviousness requires that it be something a person working in that field would not figure out on their own.

Another criteria, novelty, requires that an invention be something novel and useful in the real world. This could include a process, machine, or composition of matter that performs its intended function in reality.

Furthermore, the application must be carefully written to guarantee its viability during examination. A professional patent attorney must devote considerable effort into researching, crafting, and reviewing the application prior to submission.

Once the patent application is ready to be filed with the USPTO, filing can range in cost from a few thousand to tens of thousands depending on its complexity.

Provisional patent filing fees tend to be less expensive than regular non-provisional applications, making this an appealing option if you need a quick and inexpensive method of securing a U.S. filing date.

On the other hand, formal patent applications require more extensive preparation and research before they are officially accepted by the USPTO. This is because there are stringent requirements for formal applications from the USPTO, such as a comprehensive information disclosure sheet that identifies all reference points and prior art innovations.

Information obtained during a patentability search can help the applicant focus their search results to those that are more likely to be patentable, saving both time and money in the prosecution of the patent.

The cost of securing a patent depends on several factors, including the geographical scope of the invention and how complex its ownership structure is. The more intricate this arrangement is, the more time and resources must be devoted to clearly stating who owns what in the patent document.