There are many advantages to filing a provisional patent application including:
- Low cost (currently $70 for most inventors or $140 for most small companies)
- Reduced paperwork and filing requirements compared to other types of patent applications
- Easy online filing process
- Once you file your provisional patent application, you can use the term "Patent Pending" to describe your idea and your invention has some protection called "provisional rights"
- If done properly, your provisional patent application should give you a patent priority date which is recognized by most countries around the world the a special type of international patent application called a PCT application. This means that your cheap $130 patent application can eventually turn into international patent applications giving you coverage in the United States and most other countries
There are also some disadvantages of a provisional patent application, such as:
- No formal examination and no issuance. A provisional application acts as a placeholder and will only last for 12 months. Once those 12 months are up, you must either let your application go abandon, or, file a full non-provisional application.
- Extra cost. The provisional patent application only costs $70 but you will need to follow up with a non-provisional patent application within 12 months and pay the filing fee for the non-provisional patent application in addition to the $70 you already paid. Therefore, you essentially paying two patent filing fees instead of only one.
- A provisional patent may give you a false sense of protection. People often file quick and short provisional patent applications and think that their idea is fully protected. However, a provisional patent must meet all the same requirements to describe your invention in detail as a non-provisional does. If your provisional does not meet all these requirements, it may not give you any protection at all.
Publication Issues: Provisional patents are not published or available online like regular non-provisional patents are. This can either be an advantage or a disadvantage to you. If you would like for your patent application to publish and be able to show that published application to investors as soon as possible, than you should file a non-provisional patent application instead of a provisional patent.
Suggested Next Reading: Non-provisional Patent Application vs. Provisional Patent Application