Provisional patent applications (PPA) can be an extremely valuable tool for inventors and small businesses. PPAs provide inventors with one-year of “patent pending” and then automatically expire. It is therefore important to have a formal patent application (a.k.a. “non-provisional patent application”) filed during this one-year pendency period so your formal patent application is able to claim priority to the PPA’s earlier filing date.
A well-drafted PPA can potentially be licensed or sold to a third-party during the one-year period of patent pending. It is important to note that a poorly drafted PPA can have the opposite effect by deterring a potential purchaser or licensor. Also, if you are manufacturing displaying your product or displaying it at a product show, you can put the “Patent Pending” notice on the product during the one-year period.
Finally, a PPA is significantly easier to draft than a formal patent application which requires the complex claims section and is examined by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Using commercial tools such as PatentWizard software (owned by Neustel Software, Inc.), you will be able to easily prepare your own quality PPA at a fraction of what a patent attorney would charge – and you just might write a better PPA!