Is filing provisional patent application at USPTO is a way to save costs with patents initially ?
Well the answer is yes !!! if you utilize it in certain way, it is indeed a low upfront cost option that give you time to test the true potential of the invention before actually going for full patent procedure. additionally your priority date is secured and the confidentiality issue is taken care.
Lets discuss it in simple terms...
Getting patent for your invention and protect your business with best possible intellectual property to avoid the competition is a costly affair, and requires thousands of dollars (specially for writing and filing patent application in US)
Filing provisional patent application is a way where you can postponed the entire patent procedure for 12 months at low initial cost and get time to test commercial worth of invention without compromising confidentiality or priority date (crucially important in patent world). you can read our section on Provisional patent application : a complete guideline on procedure, timeline and cost.
Here is how going for provisional patent application makes sense:
If we see a typical life cycle of a patent owner, the most preferred way you get your ROI with the patents is by licensing it to other business. The Success in licensing your patent to other business lies in how you talk to decision makers and project the advantages and potential profits by licensing rights for your patented invention.
However instead of going for complete patent, you can choose to go with provisional patent application with US patent office. Since June 8, 1995, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have offered inventors the option of filing a provisional application for patent.
advantages of provisional patent application as below:
Low upfront cost:
You end up paying much less for filing a provisional application than filing a complete patent application.
You can say “Patent Pending”:
Although provisional patent is not actually a patent and it will not be converted to complete patent application unless you take further steps... You legally can write “Patent Pending” for your invention. (product prototype) up on filing provisional patent you have secured the priority date as its filing date, so you need not worry about confidentiality when marketing or disclosing your invention (product prototypes)
Time to let invention Evolve:
Filing a complete patent application at very early stage of the invention may not get you fullest potential of invention, filing provisional application secures your priority date (That is you now eligible to have priority date as provisional application filing date although you are not ready with complete invention / complete patent application yet; Provided the scope of the complete patent application filed later remains same) and gives you enough time to work on your invention to the fullest possible potential.
Time to test the commercial potential:
Having secured the priority date by filing a provisional application, you can test few things like:
Willingness of other businesses to license your invention then patented
Get an understanding about commercial worth of invention
Get time to evolve the invention to its fullest potential
Time to conduct real market research to confirm the marketability of the invention
In effect you get full 12 months of time to decide whether to move ahead with complete patent application or not, as during this period you can do extensive market research and find the commercial worth of your invention without worrying about it being stolen or losing the confidentiality.
time to decide whether to proceed with complete patent procedure: (saves your money )
In case you happened to find out that the invention for which you already have filed provisional patent application is not worth going ahead for full patent protections for some reasons like:
The invention is not worth that much commercially
No one willing to buy, license it neither you willing to produce the invention, etc.
or mean while you found out some prior art that makes your invention Not Novel (New)
You actually save thousands of dollars you otherwise would have spent on directly going for complete patent application, and if at all decided to abandon it in between for some reasons.
Provisional application can eventually becomes patent granted (by procedure):
The provisional patent can become granted patent in most of the countries if the complete patent application is filled within 12 months from filing date of provisional patent and entire patent procedure is followed till grant of patent. (Provided the invention is not rejected by the controller)