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You may have seen the words “patent pending” on products you have bought in California. This is an official notice that the inventor of the product has filed a provisional patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It offers the same protections as a nonprovisional patent, but its protection is limited to a 12-month period.

It is also a cheaper and faster way to get protection for an invention. The application does not get examined, so it only requires limited information to file. You do not need a declaration or formal patent claim. However, you do still have to file a provisional application, along with information such as the title of the invention, your name and address, and information for any attorney, agent or government agent involved. You also have to pay a fee. It is important to note that you cannot file this type of patent application for design patents.

The application can be filed by mail or through the USPTO’s online system. You will get full patent protection for your invention, but in order to maintain this protection, you must file for a nonprovisional patent before the 12-month period ends. There are no extensions granted to lengthen the time of a provisional patent. Filing for patent pending status allows you to get a whole year of additional patent protection, along with saving you money and allowing you to get your product on the market sooner. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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