Not all enterprising New Jersey inventors are ready to jump right into the process of seeking a long-term patent. Instead, patent-seekers may wish to consider a provisional patent application, or PPA. It's essentially a short-term way of protecting an invention in a way that does not require the same effort or expense typically associated with a standard patent. Having a PPA on file can also allow an applicant to use the filing date of the PPA if a non-provisional application is filed within a year.
Under United States patent law, having a PPA on file with the United States Patent and Trademark Office allows the applicant to attach the phrase "patent pending" to their invention for 12 months. Some PPA applicants use this period to determine if their product is viable while others might use the extra time to seek investors and financing or perfect their invention before seeking a non-provisional patent application.
Additionally, a PPA is not typically published, nor can it be applied to a design. It's also not renewable. If the invention is significantly changed when the standard patent is filed, the PPA filing date will not apply to what was not stated on the PPA cover sheet describing the invention or product. Since many other countries also use the PPA date, it can be advantageous to file international patent applications at the same time a non-provisional application is filed with the patent office to secure the earliest possible date.
Being the first to file a patent for an invention is an important part of the process for individuals or businesses primarily counting on their product for revenue. A patent law attorney may provide the necessary assistance with preparations for the filing of a non-provisional patent application. This may include additional advice on how to minimize the risk of application challenges or denials.