Although a few lucky entrepreneurs are able to find success seemingly overnight, most understand that true innovations are more likely to come from a deliberate process of research and development than a sudden burst of insight. For those inventors who are convinced they could be on the cusp of an important breakthrough but need time to refine their creations, filing a provisional patent application may be a smart strategy.
Getting a patent can be an expensive process. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, legal experts recently suggested to local business leaders at a Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce meeting that the application process can cost between $8,000 and $15,000 and take over three years to clear. But in high-tech industries where even the smallest players can generate market-changing solutions, savvy intellectual property management can help level the playing field.
By filing a provisional patent, the news source explained, experts insist that inventors can gain crucial time to explore their ideas' potential in an open forum while retaining protection against potential knock-offs.
"It's basically a yearlong placeholder. It gives you an entry-level amount of protection while you talk to people about your idea and study its business case," Virginia-based entrepreneur Mike Bucci told reporters.
According to Forbes, the merits of provisional patents are not relegated to any one size or segment of the market. For startup companies that are quickly scaling up operations, for example, taking the time to optimize a patent filing from the start can limit the risk of unfortunate consequences due to narrow or incomplete claims down the line.