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Can I Skip the Provisional and Go Straight to the Non-Provisional Patent?


Filing a patent is an important step in protecting your invention. But what if you're unsure whether you should file a provisional or a non-provisional patent application? In this blog post, we'll explore the benefits and downsides of each option, helping you make an informed decision.

Benefits of the Provisional Patent Application

The provisional patent application offers some distinct advantages, especially for individuals and small to medium-sized enterprises. Here are a few key benefits:

  1. Cost: Filing a provisional patent application is significantly less expensive than filing a non-provisional patent application. This makes it an attractive choice for those who want to protect their invention while assessing market interest without incurring substantial costs.
  2. International Filing Date: When you file a provisional patent application, you establish an international filing date. This date can be crucial later on if you decide to file for patent protection in foreign countries.
  3. Additional Year of Protection: By filing a provisional patent application, you indirectly gain an extra year of patent protection. The 20-year patent term starts from the filing date of the non-provisional application, not from the provisional application. This gives you more time to exploit and commercialize your invention.
  4. Flexibility for Changes: The provisional patent application allows you to make modifications or improvements to your invention before filing a non-provisional application. You can update the information in the non-provisional application, giving you the chance to refine and adapt your invention.

Downsides of the Provisional Patent Application

Although the provisional patent application has its advantages, it's important to consider the downsides too:

  1. Lack of Examination: One crucial aspect to understand is that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office never examines provisional patent applications. They serve as placeholders and do not result in the issuance of a patent. This means the protection provided by a provisional application is temporary and incomplete.
  2. Potential Loss of Priority: If you make changes to your invention after filing a provisional patent application, the priority date of those changes may not be recognized. Only the details within the provisional application as of the filing date of the non-provisional application will be considered.

Choosing Between the Provisional and Non-Provisional Patent Application

Assessing which option is right for you depends on various factors, including the stage of development of your invention and your budget. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Provisional Application: If you are still refining your invention, testing market interest, or have budget constraints, starting with a provisional patent application is often a sensible choice. It provides temporary protection while you gather more information and resources.
  2. Non-Provisional Application: If your invention is finalized, market-tested, and you are confident in its appeal and profitability, going straight for a non-provisional application can save you time and streamline the process.


Deciding whether to file a provisional or non-provisional patent application depends on your unique circumstances and goals. It's recommended to consult with a patent attorney or expert who can guide you through the process and help you make the best decision for your invention. More information on patent applications and patents in general can be found at Pirate Fight Club, or you can schedule an initial consultation for personalized advice.