A provisional patent application is an application that inventors file to claim rights over their inventions before they file for a regular patent. Inventors get a US provisional patent to prevent other people from taking their creations and using them as their own.
Basically, a provisional patent application allows the inventor to protect their invention before getting a patent. The provisional patent is only valid for twelve months before one has to file for a regular patent. If the one year period runs out before the inventor has filed for a patent, the invention can no longer be claimed to be solely their idea.
When one files a provisional patent application they have to file for a non-provisional patent application as well or they risk not having the chance to get a patent. A provisional patent alone cannot give one right to a patent. Furthermore, a non-provisional patent application must be filed within the one year period between which an inventor applies for a provisional patent and get a regular patent. However, if one fills a non-provisional patent application before 14 months of the provisional patent application, they can still be eligible for a patent, but with the price of paying a specified amount of money to USPTO. They must also write a statement citing the reasons for the delay.
It is not necessary for one to apply for a non-provisional patent. They can instead change the provisional patent that they had. Though changing will save one a lot of time since the non-provisional patent application requires more work than the provisional patent, it is not often advisable. This is because one still has only 12 months to file for a regular patent. Filing for a different non-provisional patent application after one has already filed for a provisional patent however, will give one 12 more months to work on their creation before applying for the regular patent.
When intending to get a US provisional patent, one has to give all the information pertaining the invention. This is such as the use of the invention, how to make it, and any differences that it has from any other earlier inventions that had a similar use. In addition to that, they must also provide full details of the inventor or inventors and their contributions to said invention. The USPTO has a library where one can do research on any other inventions that have already been patented in order for them to be able to state the differences between their inventions and any previous ones. It is also advantageous as it prevents inventors from working on projects that have already been patented.
Applications that include a diagram of the invention are preferable as they enable the USPTO to understand it better. The diagram should also have indications of how to use the invention.
When filing for a provisional patent application, an attorney is not always necessary as the process is not difficult. This is different from a non-provisional patent application though. For this, it is best to have an attorney to go through the details.