Provisional Patent Applications are Almost Always Wrong for Your Business

Provisional patent applications are almost always wrong for your business.


In almost all circumstances, an entrepreneur or startup company should NOT get a provisional patent application. The main purpose of the provisional patent application is to *delay* the patent process, but for a startup, you want your patent as fast as possible. A delay is very useful for circumstances, such as pharmaceuticals, where most of the value of the patent is at the end of the patent term. This is not the case for almost all startup companies.

First, having an issued patent adds value to the company. With a patent in hand, the company’s valuation goes up when you raise money, and it gives the startup company protection in the marketplace. I have used the Patent Prosecution Highway or Track One to expedite the patent to try to get a patent within 10-18 months, not the customary 5-7 years.

Second, a “thin” provisional patent application does far more damage than you realize. Many people file a 1-2 page provisional patent application, then think they will come back a year later and pay an attorney to write a “full” patent application. Entrepreneurs often think that they are “protected”, so they go out and freely discuss their inventions with customers, investors, and the general public during the one-year period.

This creates a situation where you have two filing dates: a first one for the provisional patent application and a second filing date with the rest of the material.

The “full” patent application probably has much more material that is needed to support the claims in the patent. This creates a very damaging problem: the provisional application is prior art against you on later patent applications, but it is not enough to support the claims. Your provisional will hurt all of your future patent applications.

All European and other international patent rights are lost through this process. The European Patent Office requires full support for claims in the specification. Since you didn’t have this support in the provisional, then you talked about the invention publicly before filing the non-provisional, your international rights are lost.

If the invention is truly valuable, there is no reason why you should not get an issued patent as fast as humanly possible. BlueIron does not file provisional patents and uses every trick in the book to get quality patents issued as fast as possible.