An invention is considered suitable for patenting when it meets two of the most important criteria: firstly, it is innovative, novel and has the potential for usefulness. Secondly, there should be definite a need in society for making the invention available. When inventors do not have enough time to wait for a regular patent to be approved and come through, they file for a provisional patent. It could be termed as a ‘temporary’ patent, till such times a more detailed application is filed for the invention.
There are many reasons why provisional patents are filed. One of them is a provisional patent application can be used in case the invention has to undergo any change or modification during the patenting process. Another reason is economy. Applying for a provisional patent can decrease the total amount of money spent in the entire patent process. Some people file for provisional patents to enhance the number of years applicable on a particular patent. There are patenting agencies that provide help for new inventors, so they could help as well.
The Patent and Trademark Office is responsible for issuing provisional patents. The important factors associated with a provisional patent are: it is valid only for a period of twelve months; the process of filing for such a patent is not as long-drawn or complicated as filing for a regular patent; the Patent Office does not conduct a very deep review of applications for such a patent, when they are filed.
There are a few advantages of following the procedure of filing for a provisional patent:
One of the biggest advantages is that you can modify any specification of the invention without affecting its validity. It adds to convenience, since you can protect your invention, while you are still developing it further. This is not possible when applying for final patent.
A provisional patent application can offer international protection which is valid for one year. This is a unique benefit considering that other types of patents are applicable for a specific country only.
A provisional patent provides enough time to the inventor to do more groundwork, like looking for a financier, etc. who may get sold on the idea and finance the entire patenting.
A provisional patent costs far cheaper than a final patent. In fact an estimated reduction would be 10 to 12 times less expensive.
It is always advisable to seek the help of professional patent agencies, such as InventHelp or attorneys, who have the requisite skills and expertise in filing such patents, rather than doing it yourself. The Provisional Specification is probably the cheapest form of gaining complete legal protection around the world and is designed for first-time inventors in mind.