Technology suffers from a kind of ‘well duh’ factor that gets overlooked. The initial formulation of an idea can be difficult to put into words or actions. Once an idea hits the public, it sometimes seems so obvious we stop remembering a time it didn’t exist.
Some call it collective unconscious, others Zeitgeist, but once an idea is formed, it spreads and pops up in many places. that’s why getting a patent filed fast matters if you intend to capitalize on an idea.
Before you file, know the difference between a provisional vs non-provisional patent. Working one into the other can mean the difference between striking it rich on an idea or being an asterisk in a history book.
Read on for a thorough look at what you need to know.
Speed and Power in Provisional VS Non-Provisional Patent Applications
As the title suggests, the big difference between the two patent application types is largely in their ease of file and holding power.
The US Patent and Trademark Office lists these two application types in step four out of eight. It’s expected that you already have an idea in mind, have a way of expressing that idea and are prepared to file somewhat specifically.
The somewhat is the reason to file for a provisional patent. When submitting the form you get a one year hold on the idea and time to test variations to arrive at a final prototype or product.
It’s quick and easy to file a provisional patent, requiring only a description of the idea that makes it unique and bares enough difference to be considered unique.
The more restrictive patent filing processes is the non-provisional. It requires a definitive idea explained in detail. Variations of an idea, such as a different size or alternative shape of bits may require separate patents per if they were not covered under a provisional filing.
Patenting is a long process because cataloging and refining ideas to be separate and distinct takes a lot of careful wording and presentation.
Provisional patents are easy but only hold your place in line. Getting a patent approved, be it provisional or non-provisional requites some luck and some know-how.
Patent examiners have the discretion to approve or demand more action to approve a patent. Savvy inventors use this tool to get approval through early in the process rather than after many alterations.
Nobody wants to see their invention sniped by someone who arrived at the concept later but filed more specifically. It’s even worse when the patent fails because you happened to get an examiner known for rejections over one known for approvals.
Filing a provisional patent application with broad ideas that you can refine for a non-provisional is often the best way to proceed.
It behooves you to get started as early as possible in the patent filing. As you saw with the provisional vs non-provisional patent forms, time and strengths both matter.
Hopefully, you already have your big idea. If not, it never hurts to check back and look at our science and tech articles for some inspiration.