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A provisional patent application is not necessarily better or worse than a non-provisional (utility) patent application in all situations. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.


This type of application can be advantageous when you need to quickly file an application.

For example, if you are planning to discuss your invention with a manufacturer and are concerned that the manufacturer might take your idea and make a copycat product, a provisional can be filed before your discussion.

A provisional application can give you an early filing date.

You generally want to have the earliest filing date possible because a patent is awarded to the first inventor to file a patent application. And preparing/filing a provisional can take less time than a non-provisional.

Low cost is another advantage.

A provisional application can sometimes be prepared for about 25% or less than the cost of a non-provisional application.

Time to test the market and change your design is a further advantage.

A provisional application can be converted to a non-provisional application within one year of filing your provisional. During this one year, you can determine if there is a market for your product and/or whether buyers prefer a different design to your product. If there is no market, you can abandon your patent application. If a different design is needed, you can include the new design in a non-provisional application.


This application can eventually lead to an issued patent, whereas a provisional cannot become an issued patent.

With an issued patent, the patent holder can use it to stop infringers. Without an issued patent, one cannot sue for patent infringement. And without an issued patent, one cannot send a cease and desist letter to stop infringement.

A non-provisional application is usually more easy to license/sell than a provisional.

If your business plan includes licensing/or selling your invention to a third party, a licensee/buyer will often be more interested in a non-provisional application than a provisional application.

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