Read this tip to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Obtaining a Patent and other Invention topics.
You've probably seen the term -patent pending- many times on store products and other items. Those wishing to patent inventions can do so through one of two types of applications: provisional or non-provisional. In 1995, it became legal to file a provisional patent, which is a lower-cost type of application in the US. It also helps give US patent filings more parity with foreign applicants. No claim or oath is required for a provisional patent; it acts as a means to file an early effective date and allows you to use the term, patent pending. Certain types of patent filings do not have this option so check with the US Patent and Trademark Office regarding your own invention claim.
After filing a provisional application, you have a certain grace period in which to file a non-provisional one. Keep in mind, provisional patent filings are NOT examined on merits. A 'patent pending' claim on a product might deter competitors but, if it's later discovered that your invention really isn't new, it's meaningless. In this case, you might even be infringing on someone else's patent. So, do a thorough patent search to make sure your invention isn't already patented by someone else before filing any type of patent application.