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FAQ: The least expensive patent application

The least expensive patent application is a United States Provisional Application For Patent, in short 'US Provisional'. A properly drafted and filed US Provisional establishes the legal filing date for the invention described, allows you to mark any prototypes and products as 'Patent Pending', and commercialize the invention without jeopardizing your patent rights.

Note, that a US Provisional is a provisional application under section 35 U.S.C. 111(b) of US patent law (there is no such thing as a provisional patent) and you MUST follow-up with the non-provisional (regular) patent applications in the US, Canada, and other target countries where you want to procure a (regular) patent. The non-provisional patent application under section 35 U.S.C. 111(a) of US patent law or corresponding sections of the patent laws of Canada and other target countries (including a PCT) must be filed within 1 year to get the benefit of the earlier filing date of the US Provisional.

You can skip the US Provisional, i.e. you can file the non-provisional patent application(s) right away. There can never be a guarantee of a patent grant, but if granted, skipping the US Provisional will get you your patent(s) granted earlier, up to a year earlier.

See related question: How long does it take to procure a patent?

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