Provisional patent application (PPA) filings have consistently risen in all but one of the past 15 years, according to the latest analysis from PatentlyO. However, the popularity of this tactic does not always correlate with patent pursuit or award.
PPA filing is an intellectual property strategy that affords an applicant an additional year to assess and refine a potentially promising invention. The maneuver gives the applicant filing-date priority claim, according to PatentlyO, which could be even more valuable as the U.S. transitions to a first to file system.
More than 160,000 PPAs were filed in Fiscal Year 2012 - an all-time high. Yet fewer than half of these applications were ultimately pursued through to the non-provisional stage. At the same time, due primarily to the number of filings, a larger percentage of non-provisional applications can now claim priority to an earlier date.
Although PPA filings may not be the most accurate barometer of application approval, more startup companies are coming to view this early action as a potential low-risk, high-reward scenario. According to TechCrunch, PPA filings are relatively inexpensive to complete and could save cash-strapped companies from committing precious resources to an idea they later find lacking in substance.