A provisional patent application acts as a “placeholder” at the patent office, and cannot produce a patent because it does not undergo examination. However, this cost-effective option may serve as the basis for a non-provisional utility patent application, because the non-provisional utility patent application may “claim priority” to the provisional application. This means that for the purposes of applying “prior art” during examination of the non-provisional utility patent application, the effective filing date of some or all of the non-provisional utility patent application is the same as the earlier filing date of the provisional application. This can be beneficial if a “prior art” reference is dated after the provisional application.
At Boudwin Intellectual Property Law, we can help you file a provisional patent application that thoroughly and accurately describes your invention. Though many inventors file provisional patent applications on their own, we would caution them against doing so, especially if you plan to potentially file a non-provisional patent application stemming from that provisional patent application.