Find FAQs related to applying for a patent.
Find FAQs related to applying for a patent.
In most cases, a patent application is filed by the inventor who created the invention. However, it is common for the owner of an invention to be another person or even a business entity. This may happen, for example, if the invention was created as part of an inventor’s employment or if the inventor sold or transferred the invention to someone else. If the inventor has assigned, or agreed to assign, the invention to another person or business entity, that person or entity may apply for the patent as the legal owner of the invention.
A provisional application for patent lasts 12 months from its filing date. The USPTO will not grant extensions for any reason.
The inventor(s) must file a Non-Provisional Patent Application within that period to take advantage of the Provisional Application for Patent's filing date. If not, the provisional application is declared abandoned and its filing date is lost.
Another Provisional Application for Patent or even a Non-Provisional Patent Application for the same invention can still be filed, just without the benefit of the earlier filing date.
A Provisional Application for Patent is a simple and inexpensive way to begin protecting your invention while you fully flesh it out, decide whether to pursue an full patent application, and do any market testing you may need. Both a Provisional Application for Patent and a Non-Provisional Application for Patent apply to an invention that could ultimately become the subject of a utility patent. A Provisional Application secures a priority filing date if a Non-Provisional Patent Application for the same invention is filed within 12 months. Once a Provisional Application is filed, an inventor has exactly one year (if the invention hasn't previously been publicly disclosed) to file the Non-Provisional Application for the same invention. If an inventor does not file an Non-Provisional Application within that timeframe, the Provisional Application for Patent is deemed abandoned. This means the inventor loses the right to that filing date and may even lose ownership rights to the invention if it was disclosed to the public more than a year ago. Filing a Provisional Application saves inventors costs upfront and allows them time to assess their invention's commercial value. They can also conduct research and seek funding before committing to the cost and process of preparing a Non-Provisional Application.
A Non-Provisional Patent Application establishes an invention's filing date (unless it claims the benefit of an earlier filed application, such as a Provisional Application). Filing a Non-Provisional Application starts the official examination process with the USPTO to determine if the invention is patentable.
A provisional application for patent is a great first step towards protecting your invention. It establishes an early filing date for your invention while you put the finishing touches on it, finish your non-provisional patent application, seek funding and do market research. Having a provisional application on file means that you can disclose details about your invention with everyone on notice that your invention is "Patent Pending." (You can use the "Patent Pending" label for the entire duration of your 12 month provisional period, or for the entire examination period of your non-provisional utility application.) Also, provisional applications are not published by the USPTO so as not to compromise your invention's secrecy.
Provisional applications are less expensive and easier to file than non-provisional patent applications, can be done quickly, and should be done in advance of an invention's public disclosure, although following a disclosure is fine also. Most importantly, filing a provisional application establishes an official filing date with the USPTO--and now that the PTO is moving from "First-to-Invent" to "First-Inventor-to-File," your filing date is the single most important determinant of who gets a patent.
With a provisional application on file, you can feel safe promoting your invention. Finally, if you significantly improve or change your invention after filing your provisional application, or decide not to go forward with a non-provisional application, the lower cost and turnaround time of a provisional application means that you haven't gone through the more costly and difficult non-provisional process prematurely or unnecessarily. Finally, multiple provisional applications can be combined into a single, later-filed non-provisional application--if your first provisional application sufficiently details the invention that appears in your non-provisional application, you can get your earliest possible filing date for the entire invention!
Yes, you may purchase LegalZoom's Patent Pending Service by itself. Keep in mind, however, that "patent pending" status does not provide full patent protection. To prevent others from using, manufacturing or otherwise capitalizing on your idea, you will need to file a full patent.
You may use your own attorney to file a utility patent. However, if you purchase a full patent through LegalZoom, you must use White + Quinn to file your full patent application. At the start of the patent questionnaire, you will see a checkbox that you can click to consent to representation by White + Quinn.
You are not legally required to file for a provisional patent before filing for a full patent. However, White + Quinn, the law firm with which we have partnered, can provide a flat rate system primarily because of the initial provisional patent filing. This system works to your benefit as well: by filing for a provisional patent, you make sure that your patent protection begins as early as possible.
1. It is "part" of the article. That is, the design is intertwined and inseparable from the item.
2. It is purely ornamental. The design cannot be part of the item's internal structure, nor may it be responsible for the article's new or improved use. A good test is to ask, "Would the article work the same way if the design was removed or changed?" If the answer is no -- that it would work differently (or not at all) -- you more likely have a candidate for a utility patent.
The law also requires a patentable design to be "original" (cannot simulate a well-known or naturally-occuring object or person) as well as non-offensive to any race, religion, sex, ethnic group or nationality.
Put simply, a design patent protects an article's design --its unique external appearance-- while a utility patent protects the article's function. Utility patents also cover certain subject matter as to which a design patent would not apply (like processes and chemical compounds).
In some cases, an invention may qualify for both design and utility patent protection. Since each is a distinct form of protection, the inventor would need to apply for both types separately, to take advantage of both forms of protection.
If you’re ready to get a patent, LegalZoom can help. We can help you complete the paperwork, file it with the USPTO, and get you in touch with a patent professional and independent attorney that can answer your questions about your patent.