A Provisional Patent Application is a relatively new form of intellectual property protection, which has only been available since about 1995. It is the FASTEST, CHEAPEST and EASIEST means for providing temporary protection for an invention and it does NOT require professional preparation.
What Does It Do? A Provisional Patent Application allows the inventor to mark the invention “Patent Pending” for a period of one year from the date the application is received by the Patent Office (Filing Date). There are no formal requirements for the written description or sketches and there is no examination. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about whether or not your material is adequate as explained by Invent Help experts.
A Provisional Patent Application CANNOT BECOME A PATENT and it expires one year from the filing date. IT CANNOT BE RENEWED. However, if a utility or design patent application is filed prior or to expiration of the Provisional Application, the invention would continue to be “Patent Pending” until a final determination is reached on the utility or design application.
Pros and Cons: Due to the Patent Office Secrecy Rules, no one can find out what type of application you have, when you filed or the subject matter of the application. Once the Provisional Patent Application is filed, the inventor can mark the device “Patent Pending”, can tell manufacturers licensees or others that it is and can offer the device for sale. Therefore, a Provisional Patent Application appears to provide the same protection as a Utility Application.
HOWEVER, the Provisional Application EXPIRES AFTER ONE YEAR, CANNOT BE RENEWED and CANNOT BECOME A PATENT! Therefore, if sales are successful and you want to extend your protection, or if you are negotiating for a sale or license of the invention and are getting to the point where you must show the other party what you have, you may want to file a Utility Patent Application in order to continue the protection and to have the possibility of actually obtaining a patent. Be sure to allow enough time for your patent attorney to prepare the new case.
I suggest contacting your patent attorney or agency, such as InventHelp when your provisional is about 8 months old. You can read more about InventHelp on AZBigMedia. Also, a Provisional Patent Application CAN be used to show the date of conception, but not for computing the term of a patent. Whether or not the filing of a Provisional Patent Application starts the one year period for filing foreign applications is the subject of much debate.