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What is a provisional patent application?

A provisional patent application is a United States patent application that may be filed without some of the formalities required of a non-provisional patent application. A provisional patent application is not examined by the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office, and a patent cannot issue directly from a provisional application.

The principal advantage of a provisional patent application is that its pendency, which cannot exceed one year, does not count as part of the twenty-year patent term. Although a provisional application need not satisfy all the formal requirements of a regular patent application, a provisional application should not be viewed as a vehicle to file a hastily-prepared application, with the thought that any problems can be fixed within the year. It is our policy to file provisional applications that ensure that our inventor teams benefit with maximal protections.