In most cases, successful commercialization requires exclusive proprietary right to use the new innovation in the marketplace. Securing patent protection is very important, but can also be expensive (approximately $25,000 per patent, per country) and also requires WatCo to invest a significant portion of time to manage the process.
Given the investment of cost and time, WatCo uses a staged approach to investment which starts with filing a U.S. provisional patent application.
What is a U.S. provisional patent application?
A provisional patent application is unique to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It allows inventors to informally file their technology ideas as a temporary application with the expectation that the formal patent application (with drawings, formal claims, etc.) will be filed within one year.
Provisional patent applications should contain detail, methodology, and example implementations to prove the invention does what it claims to do. U.S. provisional patent applications should contain a comparable level of technical detail included in a thesis, publication, or technical report to ensure the broadest future patent protection at the end of one year.
Future, formal, international applications can be filed prior to the expiry of the 12 month U.S. provisional patent application period.
Why file a provisional patent?
Filing formal, national patent applications are expensive. Filing a significantly less expensive, informal U.S. provisional patent application provides WatCo and it’s client inventors a one-year period to:
- Fully assess the commercial potential of technology opportunities
- Optimize the invention
- Secure government prototype development funding
- Initiate potential licensing or investor discussions
- Publicly disclose the invention without losing patent rights
- Pursue academic goals and timelines while the technology assessment continues
What happens at the end of the 12 months?
WatCo’s decision to proceed with incurring the significant costs to convert the U.S. provisional patent application to a national, formal patent application(s) depends on:
- Technical progress achieved
- Feedback from, and engagement with, commercial parties in the target market application
- Risk analysis of pre-existing prior art (e.g., other patents) on the likelihood of patentability
- Level of government commercialization funding secured over the previous 12 month period