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The Difference Between Provision and Non-Provisional Patents

Which Do You Need?

When you experience a spark of genius, it’s only natural to want to protect your idea. However, in a world where sharing that idea on the internet can easily lead to it being stolen and used by another person or entity, it’s important to understand patents and how to apply for them.

Do you need a provisional patent or a non-provisional patent? What is the difference between provisional and non-provisional? Here, we answer both of these questions - and offer a little more information for those looking to get their first patents and begin their careers as inventors.

What is a Patent?

Generally speaking, a patent is a legal right granted to an inventor or person who discovers something that prevents others from creating, duplicating, or marketing an identical product. This can come in many forms, but there are three primary categories of patents in the United States. These include:

  1. Design patents - These are what most people think of when they think of patents. These protect the idea or concept of a design for a product from any number of industries and may also include intellectual property.
  2. Utility patents - This form of patent is actually more common by occurrence than the design patents, and is used to protect ideas that outline new machines, processes, or chemicals.
  3. Plant patents - This is the least common type of patent, reserved for those who are breeding new and distinct types of plant life.

In order to qualify for a patent, an inventor must be able to provide proof that their new product is novel - or not immediately obvious - as well as useful. After all, you want new products to be products that people will use. Otherwise, what’s the point in patenting them?

What is the Difference Between Provisional and Non-Provisional Patents?

To understand which type of patent is best for your situation. It is important to first understand the difference between provisional and non-provisional patents.

Provisional patents are like the pregame of patent filing. These patents act as place keepers so you can retain the rights to your idea while you continue to work on the details.

Say you know what you want to create, but you don’t have all the logistics worked out. That isn’t an uncommon scenario; many inventors face this same situation while working on their next big product. Thankfully, with a provisional patent, you can protect your ideas while you work on compiling additional resources and research, securing more supplies for prototyping, and performing more tests. It keeps your ideas filed under your name, safely marking your territory there in case anyone else tries to step in while you’re working toward the final format of your invention.

This grace period also gives you time to shop your idea around to production companies. Don’t plan on hand-making every unit you produce? Then use the time that you have your provisional patent to demonstrate your items to companies who can produce it for you and see what you can line up during the lifetime of your patent. Having that patent to back up your product grants it value and places trust in you’re a creator that will help you land these deals and move your business forward.

Unfortunately, provisional patents only last for a year after filing. They do not hold up in a court of law beyond this date and are not good for much else than legal placeholders in that respect. When you want ongoing protection, your best bet is a non-provisional patent that offers trademark protection under penalty of law.

The non-provisional patent application can be very long and arduous. Those who are easily frustrated are sure to dislike the process of filing for a non-provisional patent, as it can be complicated and confusing when you are not well-versed in the law surrounding the industry. What’s more, it can take longer to get approved and may cost more than filing for a provisional patent. However, if you’re looking to protect your ideas for the long-term, there is no better solution than filing for a non-provisional - and oftentimes no alternative!

Which Type of Patent Do You Need?

So, with this in mind, which type of patent should you apply for? Patent law experts are likely to tell you to choose both.

That’s right. You need to file for both types of patents during the course of your creation process. Why? Because while you’re waiting on the longer process of a non-provisional patent application to be finished, you can secure the quick protection of a provisional patent right away. This will buy you a year of time to work toward getting the non-provisional patent just right - and work out any lingering kinks in your product’s design - so you can make sure everything is exactly the way you want it to be before you go to market with your items.

Likewise, if you need real, lasting protection, there’s no sense in filing only a provisional patent. These short-term patents expire after a year, giving you only that short grace period during which to work. They do not offer additional protection moving forward, and renewing your provisional patent year after year is far more expensive and time-consuming than simply filing for a single, non-provisional patent one time early in the days of your creative career.

For more information about patents and which type is best for your scenario, talk to the patent law experts at Johnson & Dalal Patent and Trademark Law. With the knowledge and experience you need to navigate the world of filing your first patent and applying for every one that will come after it, Johnson and Dalal are your partners in creating new products - and creating the future!

Call today at (954) 507-4500!

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