Provisional Patent Application
A Provisional Patent Application (PPA) is a patent application that can be used by a patent applicant to secure a filing date. It is filed in the USPTO and does not require to have a formal patent claim or an oath or a declaration. They can be filed informally, without adhering to the strict formatting of non-provisional applications.
The focus of a PPA is to describe an invention as minutely as possible so that the formalities that are required at the time of filing a nonprovisional patent application become unnecessary. Even though there are no formalities attached to a PPA, the inventors must understand that it is essential to describe their invention as completely in a PPA as in a Nonprovisional patent application. Otherwise, it wouldn’t serve any purpose and late can be used as a piece of evidence which states that the invention is incomplete. However, the inventor will not receive any feedback from the USPTO and the inventor will not find out about a deficiency until years later when it is too late. Thus, the inventor needs help knowing what is relevant to include and what is not.
A Provisional Patent Application has a pendency that lasts for one year from the date filing. Hence, you must file a corresponding nonprovisional application during the 12-month pendency period of the PPA to benefit from the filing that was done earlier at the time of provisional application.
With a Provisional Patent Application, the costs associated with the filing and prosecution of a nonprovisional patent application can be avoided. Hence, it is a great way to lock in your idea without spending a lot at an initial stage. A PPA essentially provides a one-year extension as compared to filing a U.S. Nonprovisional patent application.
This gives the applicant an additional year before filing his nonprovisional application to improve or perfect his invention, experiment, look for financial backups, determine sales potential, find interested parties for licensing, etc. It also puts an official date of filing on the record with the USPTO. This can be crucial in a case where competing ideas are being considered. It is advised that a Provisional Patent Application is filed as soon as the invention is concrete and tangible enough to be described completely.
You cannot extend the one-year limit for filing a Provisional Patent Application. By law, either you file a nonprovisional application within a year or you lose the benefit of the filing date. You cannot renew a PPA either. A provisional patent application only applies to a utility patent application. They do not apply to the design patents.