For those students participating in this weekend’s Connecticut Invention Convention (CIC) at UCONN and all inventors everywhere, since March 16, 2013 the United States has joined the rest of the world in using ‘First to File’ for creating patent rights. This changes the strategy of inventors and promotes the filing of provisional patent applications (PPA) with the United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO). PPAs are an inexpensive and easy process. First to file means, of course, essentially run off and file in the patent office before disclosing any information about your idea.
Once a PPA is filed, inventors have a year to improve and commercialize the idea before there is a need to file the more expensive regular patent application. A big benefit of filing a PPA early is in preserving the maximum amount of future worldwide patent rights. Another benefit is a PPA on file lets an inventor to say ‘Patent Pending’.
Ultimately the USPTO reviews and determines if the idea is patentable. But that is not going to happen unless you file for a regular patent. We recommend PPA’s as a way to preserve rights and allow the idea to develop more fully. The inventor benefits from more time. The inventor has one year from the filing date of the PPA to disclose, enhance, market and/or finding capital for their idea. Over the next 12 months, an inventor can better understand what similar inventions might already be in the marketplace and how that would affect their chances of obtaining rights.
Very important tip: if an inventor should decide to share his idea and to disclose to others before filing a Provisional, they should make sure that a confidentiality agreement is in place with all parties.