Friday, December 30, 2005

Provisionals Increase the Delay

Yes, a provisional will increase the delay you will suffer because of the Patent Office backlog, rather than speeding anything up.

This post addresses the "patent pending in two weeks" or "... for $350" ads, and the misunderstandings they spread.

Simple facts. There is no such thing as a provisional patent. A provisional is a patent application, not a patent.

Both provisional and non-provisional patent application get you a "patent pending" instantly, the moment they are filed.

The practical differences between the two? A provisional adds costs and a year extra time-wise to the process.

Why does a provisional increase costs and time? Because it is not in line to be examined. You have no patent protection until a patent issues, and that cannot happen until the application is examined.

If you file a provisional first, you then must file a non-provisional. Your application does not get in line to be examined until it is a non-provisional. Your provisional has been wasting time, rather than moving up along the line as a nonprovisional would have been doing.

In addition, when you finally file a non-provisional, you won't receive any credit against the filing fee for the fee you paid when you filed the provisional. You are merely a year and money behind.

Why oh why don't those folks with the ads warn you? Guess.

Another way of saying it is -- if it sounds too good to be true, it isn't. (Starting with a professional patent search is even better, because you are wasting both your time and money if your idea is already known. But the folks with the ads won't warn you about that either.)

More information about provisionals -- see the United States Patent and Trademark Office's website at and on my website at

Reprinted from earlier publication at


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