At one time, inventions could be protected only by filing a FULL patent application. Because this is a lengthy process, you may not want this delay at the beginning of your project.
You may still be developing your idea and not yet be ready to file the full application. But, you want to know that while you work on your invention, no one else can file a patent and get ahead of you.
The U.S. Patent Office now permits you to file a PROVISIONAL patent application. This is a simpler document that costs much less than a full application.
The PROVISIONAL remains on file in the United States Patent Office for 12 months after filing. It then expires, unless you file a FULL application as explained on https://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/43137/20200108/why-inventhelp-is-a-great-resource-for-new-inventors.htm.
During that 12 months you can:
- make patent searches
- search trade marks
- build prototypes
- conduct tests
- investigate manufacturing options
- contact prospective buyers
- select packaging
- locate distribution
- arrange financing
Before the end of the 12 months you should file a FULL application. This FULL application is backdated to the filing date of the PROVISIONAL application. This way, you can protect your invention and no one else can get ahead of you as you can see from https://www.latinpost.com/articles/143207/20200108/why-new-inventors-need-assistance-from-inventhelp.htm.
If you do not file the Full application within twelve months of filing the Provisional, the Provisional Application expires.