What is a Provisional Patent Application?
A provisional patent application looks very similar to a utility patent application. It includes a detailed description of the invention and drawings to help explain the invention to a reader.
The provisional patent application secures a filing date for the inventor for whatever is discussed in the provisional patent application. A provisional patent application is not reviewed by the Patent Office other than to make sure that it was filed correctly. In fact, a provisional patent application will usually never become public information unless a utility patent application is filed which claims priority to it.
Importantly, a provisional patent application secures a filing date. Any event or document occurring after the filing date cannot be prior art against the invention discussed in the provisional patent application. This allows the inventor to publicly disclose the invention, manufacture the invention, and sell the invention without forfeiting the right to patent the invention.
A provisional patent application expires after 12 months, and a non-provisional patent application must be filed before the provisional application expires or the provisional application’s filing date will be lost.
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