Provisional Patent Application

A provisional application is a legal document filed before Patent Office to establish an early filing date, but does not mature into an issued patent unless the applicant files a regular non-provisional or complete patent application within one year from the date of filing the provisional application. In other words, provisional patent application is filed for obtaining the earliest priority date. Applicant must file complete patent application within 12 months’ time taking priority from provisional application thus giving the applicant 12 months’ time to further develop the invention within the scope of the provisional patent application. Filing provisional patent application doesn’t mean that the patent application will be examined and granted, but the filing date is secured or reserved for the invention. The date of filing the provisional patent application may thus be called as effective filing date.
For example, consider “A” has developed a product and has filed provisional patent application on Jan 01, 2020. In the current example, ‘A’ has time till Dec 31, 2020 to file the complete application taking priority from provisional patent application filed on Jan 01, 2020.

Provisional patent application gives an advantage to the applicant that the invention doesn’t not coincide with the most recent prior art that could be disclosed anywhere in the public domain while he/she is further developing the invention. It is beneficial to consider to file provisional patent application when the invention is at early stage of conceptualization or final outcome of the invention is not clear. Applicant can take advantage of 12 months’ time to develop the invention and file the complete patent application. Applicant may also consider filing multiple provisional patent applications to protect the invention if he/she believes there are several inventive concepts, one provisional patent application for each separate and different inventive concept.
Provisional patent application must be followed up with complete patent application within 12 months of filing the provisional patent application. Failure to do so will lead to abandonment of the provisional patent application and the priority date advantage that comes with it.

Advantages of filing Provisional Application:

  • Secures priority date for invention: Provisional patent application helps to secure priority date for an invention when it is in the early stage of development.
  • Time: Provisional application gives 12 months’ time interval until the complete application is filed.
  • Safeguard: A protection from other people from stealing your idea, even when the idea is still at nascent or early stage.
  • Less Prerequisite: While there are a lot of requirements for filing complete application like claims, abstract, specifications, and drawings in the complete patent application, there are only a few requirements like simple description for filing the provisional application.
  • Inexpensive: It’s economical to file provisional application compared to complete specification.
  • Scope to continue R&D: When an invention needs more Research & Development and testing, then provisional patent application can be filed to protect the concept and inventor can continue further development of the concept and file complete patent application within 12 months’ from provisional application filing.
  • Business Standpoint: Once provisional patent application is filed, the applicant can claim “Patent Pending” status to public including clients and investors.
  • Scope for product to improve: Provisional patent application gives an opportunity to applicant to improve the invention after filing the provisional application, thus avoiding filing a complete patent application at the very early stages of the invention which could be a mistake and saving cost for applicant to add more description to the complete patent application at a later date.
  • Commercial aspects: Giving the 12 months’ time to test the commercial potential of the invention and the market viability.
  • Saving expenses: When all the above does not feel worth, provisional patent application can be easily abandoned, saving the costs.
Format to file Provisional Application:
  • Title of invention
  • Description:
  • Field of invention
  • Background of Invention
  • Object of invention
  • Statement of invention


Provisional patent application doesn’t give the invention a patent protection status but gives it patent pending status. Complete patent application must be filed within the 12 months’ time from the provisional patent application to claim the priority date back to it. Hence, it is important to file the complete patent application within 12 months, else the provisional patent application gets abandoned and becomes inappropriate and unusable.

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