Q. What Are The Advantages Of Filing A Provisional Patent Application?
A. Generally, while formulating a patent strategy, inventors and research organizations mostly file a preliminary patent application, known as provisional patent application. As compared to a complete patent or non-provisional patent application, the provisional patent application need not include a formal set of figures (patent drawings) and full-fledged set of claims. A broad set of claims along with brief description of invention that defines the scope of invention mostly satisfies the requirement of a provisional patent application.
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Patent inventors and patent applicants are generally allowed to use the term “Patent Pending” after filing a provisional patent application. The term “patent pending” is usually employed for marketing purposes and helps in establishing ownership of corresponding innovation (technology) in case of any issue related to patent infringement.
An important aspect of filing a patent application includes 12-month statutory time period, i.e. time within which patent applicants and inventors are required to file a non-provisional (complete) patent application. It is strongly advisable to file subsequent non-provisional within this time period, as once done, the same can be used to enter multiple jurisdictions using the Paris Convention or Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), in accordance with WIPO regulations.
Patent laws of multiple countries including India and US follow first-to-file approach to determine ownership of invention. In other words, the inventors and patent applicants first to file corresponding patent(s) with patent office are deemed to be lawful owners of invention. Accordingly, a provisional patent application acts as a useful tool to claim invention ownership.
In addition, patent laws generally also allow for combining multiple patent applications for the purposes of provisional patent filings, all of which can be combined to file a single complete patent application.
For example, a chemist invents a novel and non-obvious (inventive) chemical formulation comprising specific composition of elements A, B and C. He files a provisional patent application on January 1, 2015. Subsequently, he invents an improved formula based on additional components D & E, but his research is still pending. So he files another patent application on March 1, 2015 claiming priority from first application that covers elements A, B, C, D, and, E. Thereafter, he completes his research and files a non-provisional patent application or a complete patent application on September 1, 2015, claiming multiple priorities from first provisional and second provisional. In such a scenario, the priority date of claims pertaining to elements A, B & C will be January 1, 2015, while the priority date of claims pertaining to elements D & E will be March 1, 2015. Obviously, this is just a hypothetical scenario and exact priority will be determined based upon local patent laws and exact features of the invention.
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