Great ideas happen every day. But the idea, invention, or process isn't always credited to the person who came up with it first. Sometimes, someone overhears an idea. Sometimes, you're so excited, you'll tell it to anyone who will listen. And sometimes, believe it or not, someone else will come up with the same invention at just about the same time.
A Provisional Application for Patent establishes your priority with a "date of invention." In other words, it tells the world "This is my invention." It's so important to file a Provisional Application for Patent because in patent law, the person who comes up with an idea first may not benefit. Most often, it's the person who takes action and files the patent application first who wins.
The advantages of a Provisional Application are that it's much faster, easier and cheaper to file than a Non-Provisional Patent Application. A full patent application takes longer to prepare, and it costs more. With a provisional application, you will have 12 months from your filing date to file a corresponding Non-Provisional Patent Application, and during those 12 months you can legally announce to the world: "patent pending."
Furthermore, you can tell people about the idea, seek funding for development, even begin market-testing the invention with confidence that your invention is protected. This gives you time to assess the invention's complete potential. Then, you can decide if you want to spend the money on the full patent process, not to mention marketing and distribution.
LegalZoom's Provisional Application for Patent Education Center provides you with the resources you need to understand the functions and advantages of a Provisional Application for Patent. If you decide to file a Provisional Application, you can complete our online questionnaire in about 30 minutes. Simply answer a few questions, and we complete and file your application (Or, if you choose our attorney-assisted Provisional Application, our affiliated patent firm will do so.) LegalZoom can even help you obtain technical drawings to accompany your application.