USPTO Proposes Change to the Provisional Patent Application Period

In an April 2, 2010 Press Release, the USPTO proposed a change that would effectively provide a 12-month extension to the provisional patent application period. The proposed change would “give applicants greater flexibility, reduce costs, and conserve agency resources.”

The change would be implemented through the missing parts practice in nonprovisional applications. The proposed change is expected to benefit the USPTO and the public by adding publications to the body of prior art and by removing nonprovisional applications for which applicants have decided not to pursue examination from the USPTO’s workload.

The proposed change would provide applicants with more time to reply to a missing parts notice in a nonprovisional application that claims the benefit of a provisional application. Applicants would be permitted to file a nonprovisional application with at least one claim within the 12-month statutory period after the provisional application is filed, pay the basic filing fee, and submit an executed oath or declaration. The nonprovisional would need to be in a condition for publication and the applicant would not be able to file a nonpublication request.

Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos said he learned at roundtables that were held with inventors across the country that additional time flexibility during the provisional period would greatly benefit them “because the existing 12-month provisional period may provide too little time for inventors to test the marketplace.”

The USPTO is seeking public comment on the proposed change.

– Katie Cooper

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