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The Provisional Patent; What is it and Why is it needed?

The Provisional Patent; What is it and Why is it needed?

The Provisional Patent; What is it and Why is it needed?

Many people have dreamed up ideas and inventions to help improve life or to help improve on an existing invention.  For some, the idea remains just that, a dream.  Years later they may see their idea for sale in a store and wonder why they did not act on their idea.  Receiving a patent on an idea is lot easier than what most may think.

Have you ever seen an object stamped with “Patent Pending” and have wondered what made it so?  The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) allows inventors to test the waters, so to speak, by providing what is called a Provisional Patent.  This type of patent is a less expensive alternative to the longer lasting Utility Patent, and many inventors have been able to still take advantage of the benefits this type of patent warrants.

What is the difference between a Provisional Patent and a Utility Patent?

While both patents have their pros and cons, below are some points to consider:

Provisional Patent:

  • Less expensive than the Utility Patent
  • Provides 1 year of patent protection from the filing date
  • May be renewed each year
  • Patent Pending status

Utility Patent

  • Costlier than a Provisional Patent
  • Maintenance fees
  • Provides 20 years of solid patent protection
  • May be renewed at the end of patent term
  • Patented status

Some of the other benefits of the first option are that pretty much anyone with a viable idea is able to afford it.  It is the most popular option currently available to inventors.  With this type of protection, an inventor also has legal recourse if a separate inventor later files for the same type of patent on a similar invention.

For example, Inventor X files for a one year patent with the USPTO.  A day later, Inventor Y also files a one year patent for a similar invention.  Inventor Y goes on to apply for a 20 year patent for his invention during the same year.  As long as Inventor X still retains the one year patent, he has legal recourse to show that his invention was already patented before Inventor Y’s application arrived at the USPTO.  It is always wise to obtain the services of a reputable patent firm before partaking in any patent endeavor, such as the one provided at LoneStar Patent Services.

Another point to mention is that both these types of patents are for tangible items only.  Aunt Hilda’s barbecue recipe would not fall under the patent category.  The same holds true for designs, songs and poems.  These items fall under copyright and trademark protection laws.

When did the USPTO start issuing the One Year Patent?  

It wasn’t until June 8, 1995 when this type of patent was made available to inventors.  In the years prior to this date, a Utility Patent was an inventor’s only option.  By providing this one year patent option, the USPTO opened the door to many inventors who continually contribute to our lives day by day in a countless number of fields.

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