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The Application Process

There are two types of patent applications:

Provisional Patent Application (PPA) – With a provisional patent application, you can protect your invention for a period of twelve months and claim that there’s a “patent pending” on your product. If you haven’t filed for a regular patent application in twelve months, the provisional patent application expires, and your invention will be unprotected. A Provisional Patent Application can’t mature into a patent.

Non-Provisional Patent Application (NPA) – As you might imagine, a non-provisional patent has numerous requirements, but this will lead to a patent on your invention.

Patent attorneys will often apply for a provisional patent application while their clients work on organizing their information for the non-provisional patent. This two-tier process is designed to protect the invention under the provisional patent application while the applicant is preparing the more involved non-provisional patent application.

There are also three general categories of patents. While the concepts are simple, you’ll need to know which type of patent you’re seeking.


Design patents protect the physical appearance of the invention. This type of patent is particularly useful in protecting an item from being visually counterfeited and marketed as the product or a close facsimile of the product.


A utility patent provides legal protection for the working functions of an invention. Utility patents are used to stop others from “reinventing” what’s essentially the same product by closely mimicking the original.


According to the USPTO, a plant patent protects agriculturists and other botanical inventors who have “invented or discovered and asexually reproduced a distinct and new variety of plant.”

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