Patent vs. Patent Pending/Provisional Patent

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To Patent or to Patent Pending/Provisional Patent… that is the question. How many hours have you put into the design of your idea? How many exciting revisions have been made to fine tune and make possible the ideal product? How great is it that you are ready to offer the world your one-of-a-kind service, design, or product? It’s great isn’t it, congratulations!

It’s also heartbreaking when all these years of work and effort are pirated, stolen, and made inferior or cheaper and it steals your customer base and market share. Therefore, a patent is vital.

What is a Patent?

A patent legally protects your invention, be it a design, a service, or a product for a duration of time in the country you file it in. If you believe there is merit for your idea in other countries, you must file a patent separately for each country

From Merriam-Webster:

1: an official document conferring a right or privilege

2: a writing securing for a term of years the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention

There are three types of patents: Utility, Design, and Plant.

  • A UTILITY patent protects processes, machines or compositions and is good for 20 years.
  • A DESIGN patent is issued for ornamental designs and functional items and is good for 14 years.
  • A PLANT patent is given to prevent other people from asexually reproducing a plant and is good for 20 years.

Are Patents Expensive?

The short answer is, yes, they can be. Depending on the idea, the complexity and what you are looking to cover they can be quite expensive to file. You’ll see some do it yourself filings advertised online, those are risky, and you need to know what you are doing at every step of the process or you’re wasting your money and still open to idea theft. There are many reasons you would want a patent to legally protect your invention. However, the price tag can be a major deterrent for many entrepreneurs just starting out, not to mention the time needed to properly research, and file a fully protective patent. So, what’s a happy medium?

Patent Pending/Provisional Patents.

A consultation with an experienced patent attorney is needed. For a modest fee, you will have a legal expert review your idea (fully protected by attorney-client privilege) to assess its patent potential, and to determine which steps, legally, are needed next.

Many times, entrepreneurs, will have their attorney’s file a Patent Pending or Provisional Patent Pending status for them. This is not a full patent and does not protect your invention from theft,   but it does for a fraction of the cost, allow your filing date to be on record and for a 12 month “trial” period to commence to see if the invention will take off. Additionally, a provisional patent buys you time to refine your invention, do additional research while you test it in the consumer market and allows you time to decide if you want to go through the whole patent process while maintaining a legal “patent pending” status. That official file date is of utmost importance. Say you and your neighbor race to the patent office for the official filing of the same idea? The individual who can prove the first legal filing application date of the idea wins the right to the full patent.

Whether you want to try your idea out on the market with patent-pending protection or are ready to go all in for full legal invention protection, having a dedicated and experienced patent attorney makes all the difference. A great attorney like the ones at Sparks Law will walk you through the process from start to finish taking all the research, legal loopholes and process, and pitfalls out of the equation for you.

Call today for more information!