Utility patent applications can be filed on either a provisional non-provisional basis. The decision whether to file a provisional patent application versus a non-provisional patent application depends on your readiness to invest more fully in your concept and how quickly you would like to be issued a patent.
A provisional patent application is good if you are unsure whether you want to pursue a patent for your invention because it is less money initially: $1,850 vs $5,800 at our current rates. With a provisional patent application, you are basically buying an extra year of time to postpone the decision whether to pursue an enforceable patent. You can use that year to test the market for your invention and to seek investment capital. If you think you might abandon efforts to have your invention commercialized, then a provisional patent application may be best.
However, if you are pretty sure you want to obtain a patent for your invention, then a nonprovisional patent application is generally best because it is less expensive overall and results in enforceable patent rights faster. It is less expensive overall to go straight to the nonprovisional patent application because you avoid the $1,850 provisional patent application fee. Your patent application will be examined sooner as well, which means it will issue as a patent sooner if the Patent Office deems it eligible for patent protection.
If your invention is in a fairly compete and refined state, proceeding straight to a nonprovisional patent application would make a lot of sense.
A provisional patent application generally takes about 4 weeks to prepare and file. A nonprovisional patent application generally takes about 5 weeks.
The U.S. Patent Office charges higher fees for inventors who earn more than $150,000 in annual gross income and/or who have more than 4 nonprovisional patent applications on file. Our nonprovisional patent application flat fees thus depend on whether you qualify for higher or lower government fees. If you qualify for the lower government fees as a Micro Entity inventor, then our nonprovisional patent application flat fee would be $5,800. If you instead are in the Small Entity higher fee category, then our nonprovisional patent application flat fee would be $6,500.