Why Apply For Provisional Patent?
Applying for a provisional patent is an excellent way to establish priority rights when your invention can be patented. Furthermore, it gives you one year from filing to convert your provisional application into a full patent.
Before filing your provisional application, it is recommended that you conduct a basic prior art search to confirm your invention is new and separate from existing technologies. Doing this will guarantee the effectiveness of your provisional application.
1. Identify Your Invention
Provisional patents are an excellent way to safeguard your invention while it is still in the early stages of development. Since they require two steps and only last 12 months, it’s essential that you convert them into non-provisional applications before that deadline passes.
The initial step to filing for a provisional patent is to identify your invention. While this may take some effort, it will provide invaluable data when crafting and filing your non-provisional application.
Additionally, you must conduct a prior art search. While this can seem like an intimidating task, it is necessary for guaranteeing your idea is unique and original.
Your search can involve a variety of techniques, but the two most useful are Google Shopping and the USPTO database. These resources will enable you to quickly and conveniently identify similar existing products that can help focus your focus on what matters most.
An additional resource to consider is the Espacenet database of the European Patent Office, which provides patents and documentation on over 90 million inventions from around the globe.
After conducting a comprehensive search, you will have an in-depth knowledge of your invention’s unique position in the market and how it differs from prior art. This will enable you to decide if your idea deserves protection as well as describe it accurately and comprehensively in your patent application.
Though filing your non-provisional application may seem like a lot of work, the time and money saved will be worth the effort in the end when you file it. Furthermore, you can use the information gained from your PPA to strengthen and refine your invention during its 12-month “patent pending” period.
You must disclose any prior art that you come across, even if it appears unrelated or non-analogous to your invention. This includes documents such as articles, patents, publications, presentations, videos and computer code.
2. Perform a Prior Art Search
A prior art search is a method of scanning the Internet and other resources to see if someone else has already created something similar to your idea. This can help determine if your invention truly meets both novel and non-obvious requirements for patenting, as well as determine if pursuing a patent application is worth the time and money invested in it.
Conducting a search can take some time, but it is essential to conduct an exhaustive one. Check all potential sources where your invention might appear, such as scholarly or trade journals, presentations at conferences and existing products on the market.
A search will also show any patents filed in your area. This can be beneficial if you plan to sell your product, since it helps avoid infringing upon someone else’s rights.
You can conduct your own patent search or hire a research firm to do it for you. A research firm will have more expertise and access to more databases than you do, plus they provide advice about how best to approach searching and what results should be expected.
When conducting a search, begin by selecting keywords that accurately reflect your invention. Doing this will help ensure the most pertinent references are found. You can conduct this task using various tools, such as Google. Afterward, look for references cited in other patents or examiners’ works.
Once you’ve located some references, it is necessary to analyze them. This is a complex process that involves comparing search results with relevant technology and innovations you are asserting. Furthermore, take note of forward and backward citations, which provide further insight into what other people in your field thought was important.
A prior art search is an integral step of the patent process and should always be conducted before someone files for a patent application. Inventors who fail to conduct this investigation could lose their rights to their invention or may not know how to protect their ideas effectively, leading to lost revenue from patent filings.
3. Draft Your Application
A provisional patent application is an essential step in the process of obtaining a patent for your invention. It provides a filing date and can be used to postpone costs associated with USPTO prosecution of the application.
Additionally, this period gives you 12 months to conduct further market testing of your invention and make necessary changes that can be added to the non-provisional application for ultimate approval. This time frame helps determine whether or not your idea can be successfully implemented in the real world and generate revenue.
Furthermore, a provisional patent application helps the USPTO expedite technical information exchange among inventors, thus spurring further innovation. This exchange has become even more essential due to COVID-19 which calls for quick exchange of patents and published patent applications in order to combat counterfeiting of legitimate patents.
Before you begin drafting your provisional patent application, it is essential to conduct a comprehensive prior art search. Doing this can help you avoid costly errors and save you time from applying for patents that have already been issued.
Your provisional patent application should also include a comprehensive description of your invention. This will give the examiners an in-depth understanding of how and why it works.
The description should be brief and precise, free from ambiguous terms or obscure references to prior art. Additionally, any illustrations you may wish to submit with your provisional patent application should also be included.
Drafting your description with the help of an expert is recommended. Doing so will guarantee that your application is as comprehensive and precise as possible, plus that it will be filed with the USPTO promptly.
Professional patent attorneys can draft your provisional patent application with much greater precision than you are able to do it on your own. Alternatively, you could hire an online legal service provider such as Nolo or LegalZoom to prepare the application on your behalf; these companies typically charge hundreds of dollars per provisional patent application – not much different from hiring an attorney to handle the work for you.
4. File Your Application
If you don’t have the time or funds to wait for your nonprovisional patent application to process, or just want a head start on protecting your idea while building your business, a provisional patent can provide some of that security. Furthermore, having a provisional patent helps ensure priority if another later-filed application claims your invention as its own.
To file your application with the USPTO, you must fill out Form SB-16 and attach any patent drawings or other professional documents that support your invention. Moreover, you may include a written description of your invention that details its features, functions, and application.
Filing a provisional patent successfully requires having all necessary information. In addition to your written description and drawings, it’s wise to include details regarding how your invention functions in a machine or device as well as any other pertinent details that help define the full scope of your invention.
Before filing your provisional patent, it is recommended that you conduct a comprehensive search for prior inventions and published materials that are similar to yours. You can do this yourself or hire an expert searcher.
Once you have all of the information needed, it’s time to prepare your patent application. A patent lawyer can assist with this step and may even be able to draft your application for you.
Once your application is ready, send it to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO will review your submission and issue you with a patent.
Before your application can be considered valid, you must pay the filing fee. You can do this online with a credit card or by mailing a check to the USPTO. Generally speaking, it takes around 2-3 weeks for you to receive an official receipt with your application number and filing date.
After 12 months, your provisional patent will expire and you must file for a new one or renew it to maintain patent protection. While this can seem like an overwhelming task, with proper preparation and the help of an experienced intellectual property attorney, filing your provisional patent quickly and efficiently becomes possible.