U.S. Provisional Patent Application

The Provisional Patent Application (PPA) provides internationally recognized patent pending status. However, it expires on the first anneversary of its filing date.

The PPA should be thought of as a preliminary utility patent application. If the utility patent application is filed during the term of the PPA, it can claim the filing date of the PPA. Since the utility patent has a term of 20 years from its filing date, the inventor actually obtains protection for 21 years counting the one year term of the PPA.

Benefits of the PPA:

  1. An extra year of protection of the invention.
  2. Relatively low cost and quick filing.
  3. Publish/promote the invention without loosing foreign filing rights.
  4. Offer the invention for sale without loosing foreign filing rights.
  5. Test the market before filing the more costly utility patent application.

Drawbacks of the PPA:

  1. Inventors tend to do-it-themselves, often loosing their patent rights.
  2. If public disclosure occurs during the one year term of the PPA, foreign patents would have to be filed within the one year PPA term.
  3. One year is usually not enough time to properly test the market.
  4. PPA applications are usually not able to attract investment capital.