Thursday, June 17, 2010

Provisional Patent Application – Do It Yourself – It’s Not Hard At All

I’ve reached the point with my selective asparagus harvester invention that I would like to begin marketing the machine. I have a website for the harvesting machine, a machine I’ve been working on for over 30 years. It was patented at one time, but the patents ran out long ago. However, I have not yet filed for a new patent or patents on the improvements I have made. If I reveal the improvements to the public on my website it creates patenting problems for me.

What we are trying to do is to find a progressive thinking asparagus grower or perhaps an organization that will purchase one of the machines. We will build it to order.

I would like to be able to discuss the harvester in detail on the internet website. Once I sell one to a grower, and the grower makes money using it, all of the other growers will want my invention too. There just aren’t that many asparagus growers. Word will spread very quickly. But no one really wants to be the first one to use a machine. I need all the help I can get with marketing. I need to be able to discuss the details of how my machine works.

The problem is that if I publish the details on the website I will seriously impact my patent situation. For one thing, in many foreign countries you have to file your patent before you publicize your invention. However, most of those countries allow you to file within one year of your US filing date. This would apply to both a regular patent application and a provisional patent application.

Publicizing your invention will start a one year clock ticking. Within that one year period you have to file your US patent. But if you publicize your invention and you haven’t filed for either the provisional patent or the regular patent then you lose the foreign rights.

A major portion of my market will be in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Peru if all goes well, so it would be nice to obtain a few foreign patents, but that is very expensive. If I file a PPA (Provisional Patent Application) I will have a year to file the foreign patents and I can even use the term patent pending on my materials.

However, if I don’t file my regular patent application within the one year the PPA just fades away and will never be looked at by anyone. In my way of thinking that means the only downside is that you have to pay the PPA filing fee. You really don’t need a lawyer.

A PPA only requires basically a very good description of my invention, how it works, and how to make it and use it. I don’t have to deal with the claims and all that stuff. I normally would not try to patent something without a good patent attorney. But with a PPA I don’t need to worry about the claims and hard stuff, I just describe my invention without worrying about all the legal jargon etc.

I can file the PPA myself without the cost of the attorney, and then a year from now if things are working out I will get the attorney and file the real patent application. If things don’t look so good I can just forget I filed the PPA to begin with. It only costs a couple of hundred bucks or so in filing fees. I think I will be able to file the application online too.

The PPA is not a patent and won’t result in a patent. It will however get you that extra year, let you use patent pending, and gives you time to get those foreign patent applications in even while selling and or marketing your invention.