The Disadvantages of a Provisional Patent

By River Braun, J.D.

The Disadvantages of a Provisional Patent

By River Braun, J.D.

A patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) protects your invention from being copied without your permission. However, obtaining one can be a costly and lengthy process. Some inventors decide to apply for provisional protection because of the ease and cost associated with the process. However, this may not outweigh the disadvantages of it.

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Below are some disadvantages of seeking provisional protection, all of which you should consider before using this method for your creation.

Higher Costs and Limited Protection

Although the filing fee is lower for a provisional application than for a regular one, you end up paying more when choosing this method. When you do file proceed with the process, you must pay the filing fee, even though you may already hold a such patent. Therefore, this increases your costs.

Since many inventors are in a rush to file, they may not understand the full scope and leave critical details out of the application. Those that contain incomplete information can significantly limit someone's ability to obtain a patent on every component of their invention. Only information disclosed receives protection as of the filing date. In other words, if an inventor does not disclose a vital component when they file, another person may receive a patent on that component by submitting their documentation before the other.


Stricter Deadlines

Another disadvantage is the deadline for filing. Inventors who are not careful could lose their right to file a regular application for their invention. When you submit a provisional form, you have a 12-month pendency period before you must convert it to a regular one. Failing to do this within the deadline could result in the loss of your creation. There is no extension of this deadline; inventors who do not pay close attention to could lose all rights.

Not only do you have only one year to file a regular form, but you also only have that amount of time from the provisional patent application to file your foreign or international documentation. This is a short period for completing the development of the invention, along with all requirements associated within each location. In fact, if you intend on using your creation throughout several countries, you'll have to submit documentation for each jurisdiction. Before you do so, you will have to visit the USPTO website, which provide links to various country websites. Keep in mind that there are varying rules, regulations, and requirements in each country for submitting documentation for patent protection. Again, someone who loses track of time may also lose all rights.

This type of application may seem appealing if you worry about someone stealing your invention. Take care to understand the process and the requirements associated with obtaining a regular patent after a provisional one. If you skip just one step or are not thorough when providing a comprehensive description of your invention, you could lose the rights to your invention even though you obtained provisional protection over your creation. If you need additional information, you can visit the USPTO website.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.