The Difference Between Provisional and Non-Provisional Patents

One of the most common dilemmas inventors face is how to protect their ideas and inventions. In the U.S., patent laws exist in order to protect physical and intellectual property developed by inventors. According to the website of patent attorneys Gagnon, Peacock & Vereeke, P.C., a patent grant to an inventor confers the right to exclude others from making, using or selling an invention. Though filing for a patent may seem like common sense, choosing the type of application to file can often be a long, difficult, and confusing process.

Whether to file for a provisional or non-provisional patent can be determined by looking at several factors such as financial conditions, stages of development, tolerance for risk, and the marketing process. While they may seem like two mutually exclusive processes, it is important to note that they are simply two different routes one can take to reach the same goal. If one files for a provisional patent they must still file a non-provisional patent within a one-year period to maintain protection for their invention or idea.

The main difference between the two types of patents is flexibility. Once a non-provisional patent is filed, the inventor can no longer make changes to that patent if further developments are made to the product. With a provisional patent, an invention is protected for a period of 12 months during which an inventor can continue to fine tune their invention. Because provisional patents are not final, an inventor can include any changes made to their invention when they file for a non-provisional patent. In addition, the extra time allows an inventor to conduct market research before choosing to file for a more expensive non-provisional patent.

Another difference between the two is cost. Non-provisional patents are much more complicated and costly. Additional cost are often associated with non-provisional patents due to fact that many inventors must hire a patent attorney to help with the application, While provisional patents have a much less complicated application, it is often not recommended for inventors to file for these patents on their own. This is because a poorly written application can limit the protection an inventor receives for their idea.

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