Provisional Patent Law and Legal Definition

A provisional patent lets you quickly secure an initial filing date for your invention and legally allows you to use the words "patent pending." It allows filing without a formal patent claim, oath or declaration, or any information disclosure (prior art) statement. A provisional patent application is a temporary patent application in the United States that reserves a filing date on an idea without having to meet all the requirements of the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). Provisionals are not examined, and expire after one year. Before the provisional expires, the applicant/inventor must file a non-provisional patent application claiming priority to the provisional (your patent attorney knows what this means). If it expires before the second patent application is properly filed, the benefit of the provisional is lost.

According to 37 CFR 1.9 (a) (2) [Title 37 -- Patents, Trademarks, And Copyrights; Chapter I -- United States Patent And Trademark Office, Department Of Commerce; Subchapter A – General; Part 1 -- Rules Of Practice In Patent Cases; Subpart A -- General Provisions; Patents; General Information And Correspondence], the term provisional application means “a U.S. national application for patent filed in the Office under 35 U.S.C. 111(b).”