So, you’ve come up with an invention that you believe will have value in the marketplace and is worthy of pursuing a patent. Now what?

Perhaps you start to do some research, go on a few patent attorney websites, and realize that the process could take up to 60 (!) months before you are granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

It can be worrisome for any inventor to know in the back of their mind that the novel and potentially valuable idea that they came up with could be uncovered or even stolen by someone else in this timeframe.

Fortunately, there is a step you can take during this “interim period” to put some level of protection around your invention and intellectual property. What your patent attorney will likely advise you to do is submit a Provisional Patent application to the USPTO.

The provisional patent application is a legal document that you and your attorney will file that essentially puts the government and others “on notice” you have an invention that you plan to pursue patent protection for. After the application is submitted, you will have one year to file a regular, non-provisional patent application.

Again, the biggest benefit to filing a provisional patent application is that you are staking a claim to your invention. Having this application filed will allow you to use a “Patent Pending” notice on your invention or within your marketing to hopefully deter others from stealing your ideas.

Having a provisional patent filed also provides you with an Early Filing Date that you can refer to should a competitor claim they came up with the idea before you did. By using the date of your legal filing, you can offer proof that you were indeed “first,” as the person with the earliest filing date gets the patent.

Finally, a provisional patent application gives you the time to do your homework and properly assess whether there is true commercial value for your patent.

Remember, just because you invented something does not mean that you will get a patent for it.

Likewise, even if you get a patent, the invention may not have or retain any value relative to the tens of thousands of dollars it will ultimately cost you to go through the process once it’s all said and done.

Having the time to talk with lawyers, do your “due diligence,” and really work through the kinks of your invention over the course of a year can save you a ton of time and money that cannot be underestimated.

If you are currently sitting on an invention, and you’re not sure what the next step forward should be, we invite you to contact our patent attorneys to discuss filing a provisional patent application.

From there, we can help you thoroughly evaluate your invention, give you an honest assessment of your chances to be successful with the USPTO, and give you an overview of the time frame and/or costs that you can expect to occur. For help getting started, simply call Thompson Patent Law at (512) 991-0183.