One of the most common questions for first time inventors is "What is a provisional patent". The short answer is that it is a type of patent application which can be used to provide preliminary protection on a new invention (such as a product, process, or even software method). Here are the types of patent applications and a provisional patent application falls under the "Utility" category:
It is important to note that a provisional patent application is an application only and will only last for 12 months. It is not a full patent and actually will never turn into a full issued patent unless you take additional steps. So why bother?
A provisional patent application is cheaper and easier to file than a full non-provisional patent application. For this reason many people will file a provisional patent application, use that 12 month time period to test out or validate their idea, and if it still looks good, then proceed with a full non-provisional patent application.
If you want to learn more about what is a provisional patent, or get a free template to start your own provisional patent, you can download one here: http://patentfile.org/free-provisional-patent-template/
Registered USPTO patent agent with 11+ years of patent filing experience. Filed over 500 patent applicaiton in many technology areas. Check out my website: http://patentfile.org