Patent: Provisional or Non-Provisional Patent?
The first step in the patent application process is trying to decide whether to file a provisional application or non-provisional application. For clarity, there is no such thing as a “provisional patent”, just a provisional patent application. It is important to understand the key differences between a provisonal and non-provisional application:
• Expire after one year
• No examination made by the USPTO
• Less formal, less requirements
• Cannot extend the deadline
• Can make reference to the Provisional
• “the real” application that will be examined
• must have claims
• formal, structured requirements
So, if the USPTO is not going to examine your application then why file a provisional patent application? First, a provisional patent application allows you to establish a filing date with the USPTO. Since we are a first to file nation the filing data is the most important first step in the patent application process. Second, a provisional application is much less formal and thus the time and expense it takes to prepare a provisional application is less than a non-provisional application.
There can be some risks filing a provisional application though. The single biggest risk is not including information in the original provisional application filing. The written description and drawings must adequately describe the subject matter later claimed in the non-provisional application.
And, of course – cost. It is hard to predict what the cost of filing a provisional patent application will be, but an inventor can do it pro se for as little as $75. With that said a reputable patent attorney will generally charge $1500-$3000 for provisional application (about 5-10 hours of work). I find most inventors are shocked at the fees for a non-provisional application and I generally point out the fee is a function of the amount of work the inventor is willing to contribute. As a patent attorney I am going to draft an application that is sufficiently broad to capture potential infringers and yet specific enough to be defensible. I usually spend 10-15 hours just reviewing the final draft.
Call the Law Office of John R. Nelson at click here to schedule an appointment to learn more about a provisional patent or non-provisional patent application.