When is my Provisional Deadline? US patent law allows inventors to file informal, or Provisional, patent applications. These applications consist largely of the inventor’s invention disclosure, without the requirement to conform to the complex and elaborate requirements of the standard, or Non-Provisional, patent application. This allows inventors a low-cost way to receive a priority date for their application and begin marketing their invention as “patent pending” upon filing. However, this application is never examined by the USPTO and may never become a patent unless the corresponding formal Non-Provisional patent application is filed within 1-year of the Provisional patent application filing. This date is sometimes referred to as the “Provisional Deadline.” While this date generally falls 365 days after the Provisional patent application’s filing date, some instances afford inventors one or more extra days to file.
Weekends and Federal Holidays
Nowadays, nearly all US patent applications are filed electronically online, and not filed on physical paper or fax. Absent outages and maintenance, the USPTO’s online filing system is generally open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Nonetheless, the USPTO affords extra time to inventors when their filing deadline falls on a weekend or federal holiday, when their office is not open. So, if the filing deadline falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the Non-Provisional patent application may be filed on the following Monday, while maintaining its priority to the Provisional patent application. If the following Monday or the filing deadline is a federal holiday, the inventor may file the Non-Provisional patent application the next business day. For example, if an inventor had filed her Provisional patent application on February 15, 2019, her Provisional Deadline would actually fall on February 18, 2020 because the 15th is a Saturday and the 17th is President’s Day. This would afford an inventor an extra 3 days to finalize and file her Non-Provisional patent application.
Since there is an extra day in February every 4 years, inventors are incidentally afforded an extra day. This is because the Provisional Deadline falls on the same calendar day, not 365 days, from the date the Provisional patent application was filed. Though most may not even notice this extra day, applicants who filed in early March the year before a leap year may enjoy that extra day to review, finalize and file their Non-Provisional patent application.
If you’re considering filing a Provisional patent application, or are quickly approaching your Provisional Deadline, it’s never too late to hire a patent attorney to help draft and file your application. Patent attorneys can docket your application, keeping in mind all relevant deadlines, to remind you with plenty of time to make sure you don’t inadvertently abandon your invention. Please contact Grell & Watson Patent Attorneys for a free consultation.
We would be happy to discuss your potential US Provisional Patent application and answer any patent questions.