Provisional patent applications are lower cost, but not cheap
Provisional patent applications are frequently misunderstood, and in my opinion, misused. Oftentimes, provisional applications are thought to be the poor man’s patent or the cheap patent. However, the provisional patent application is merely a lower-cost option as best described by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It is a lower-cost option but certainly not a cheap option if it is prepared to provide the same protection as a corresponding non-provisional patent application.
Detailed description takes up 70-80% of the preparation time
When I prepare patent applications, I spend about 70-80% of my time preparing a detailed description of the invention section. The detailed description links the textual explanation of your patent application to the visual side or the drawings which illustrate your invention or idea. This section is the heart of the disclosure of the invention.
Less crucial parts of a patent application
The other sections of the patent application are not as crucial such as the formal drawings, abstract, background, brief summary, and the brief description of the drawings. Click here for a sample patent. Scroll through the entire sample patent and notice the redlined sections.
70-80% of the time must be spent to provide the same level of protection
To provide the same level of protection in a provisional patent application compared to a nonprovisional patent application, one must still spend the 70-80% on the detailed description of the provisional patent application. Otherwise, the disclosure of the provisional patent application would contain less information than the nonprovisional patent application.
Patent applications only protect what is disclosed
Since both the provisional and nonprovisional patent applications only provide protection for what they disclose, less patent protection is afforded if you spend less than the 70-80% on the provisional patent application. Simply put, if the patent application fails to disclose an aspect of the invention, then the undisclosed aspect cannot be claimed.
Provisional patent application is a lower-cost option because it has lower requirements
The provisional patent application is a lower-cost option because the requirements for filing a provisional patent application are less than a nonprovisional patent application. The provisional patent application does not require the abstract, background, brief summary, a brief description of the drawings and the claim set. Also, the drawings may be hand-drawn. However, provisional patent applications are certainly not a cheap option as other online websites describe them.
Based on the discussion above, a provisional patent application is a lower-cost option but it is not what others on the internet call the poor man’s patent.
Techniques to reduce costs of provisional patent applications
Patent applications can be prepared very inexpensively. However, you would have to sacrifice quality. By way of example and not limitation, the patent application could be narrowed to focus solely on the invention or idea without contemplating other variants. This is not recommended since your patent, should one issue may be easier to design around to avoid infringement. Another option would be to file a document prepared by the inventor without any feedback or little feedback from a patent attorney. This also is not recommended since the description is what is relied upon to define the claim language, and thus, the scope of protection afforded under the patent.
I invite you to contact me with your patent questions at (949) 433-0900 or [email protected]. Please feel free to forward this article to your friends. As an Orange County Patent Attorney, I serve Orange County, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego, and surrounding cities.