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What is a Provisional Patent Application?

what is a provisional patent application? Tips and tricks about this innovate patent technique from The Pragmatic Penguin. Written by Rory Flanagan. Saving inventors time and money. thepragmaticpenguin.com

What is a Provisional Patent Application? 

A Provisional Patent Application (PPA) is a great tool that protects your invention and gets you ‘patent pending’ status for 12 months. As soon as you file your PPA, it automatically and instantly grants you the right to put ‘patent pending’ on your marketing materials. 


What do I need to get started?

All you need to get started is a brief description of your invention and how it can be used, and a few drawings. Our team of experienced PPA writers will take it from there.


Does the filing date get my invention priority?

Yes! If you file a utility patent, it will adopt the filing date of your PPA. It’s also the first person to file a patent who gets the rights to an invention, not the first person to invent. This applies even if you have the idea first. If someone else beats you to file a PPA or patent, they’ll get the ownership and the benefits.

Does it protect me internationally?

Yes! With your PPA you also receive 12 months of international priority. This means that if you file internationally those applications can adopt the PPA filing date. So you can file patents in the UK, Australia, and Japan for example and they will adopt the US filing date. This is a very useful rule and worth remembering. The technical name is ‘Paris convention for the protection of industrial property’.

Does my patent get published?

No, The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO for short) won’t read your PPA and it won’t be published, it just gets stored away. This is great for maintaining your privacy. No one can find your PPA online and start looking for ways to copy it, which is huge. If after 12 months your PPA is allowed to expire you will lose your filing date. The good news is that your PPA still doesn’t get published, it is simply deleted by the patent office. This is a great benefit, privacy of your invention is maintained even if the PPA expires. 

Why should I file a PPA instead of a Utility Patent first?

There are many reasons, but first and foremost – the cost. Working with a patent attorney to file a utility patent costs, on average, between $7,000 – $20,000. Working with a PPA service only costs hundreds of dollars.

Here is a shocking statistic – 97% of patents never earn more money than they cost. 


How can I avoid becoming part of this statistic?

File a provisional patent application! The main reason why utility patents never earn more money than they cost, and rarely actually become products, is because inventors are often more concerned with protecting their ideas than they are on testing whether or not their product will be successful. Thousands of dollars and multiple years can be wasted on waiting for a utility patent to file. 

If you file a PPA, this gives you 12 months “patent pending” status so your idea is protected and you can spend that year TESTING your invention.

How to test your invention:

  • Talk to manufacturers – find out what it costs to manufacture your product, find out if they have ideas on what might make it cheaper or better. Find out how the cost of your product compares to competitors. If your product can’t be produced at a price range comparable to your competitors, it will never sell, no matter how great it is.
  • Talk to your target market. Find out if there are people out there who want to pay money for your product. Get feedback from the people who will be using your product on what could make it better. Practice smoke testing.
  • Talk to potential licensees. If you want to go the product licensing route, you need to find out if businesses are interested in working with you. Before you speak with a potential licensee, you will need to have the information from a manufacturer to be able to answer the questions “How much does this cost to produce?” and “How do we make this?” 


It’s not just about the cost…

All of this feedback is another main reason you should file a PPA instead of a Utility Patent. You can make unlimited updates to your PPA as your invention progresses and changes based on the feedback you receive. If you file a utility patent for $20,000, you can’t update that patent. This means that as you learn more about the best manufacturing practices for your product, or how your target audience changes your product, if you want to make any of those changes, it will cost you another $7-20,000 for a brand new utility patent. 

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About The Pragmatic Penguin. Rory Flanagan.
About Rory Flanagan

I am the founder of The Pragmatic Penguin. I’m also an inventor and entrepreneur. And over the past seven years, I have been working to help fellow inventors to achieve inventing success.

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