The provisional patent application (PPA) is an interim document designed to preserve the patent owner’s rights to the invention while in the process of determining whether to file a regular patent or not. Many inventors file it since it’s a relatively straightforward, simple and affordable way of protecting their rights over and interests in their inventions.
Reduction to Practice Defined
It’s the equivalent of the concept of “reduction to practice” typically manifested in two ways:
The actual physical construction for a product or the performance of the steps for a process is meant to show others that, indeed, the subject matter being patented can do what it’s supposed to do. The concept of reduction to practice then encompasses actual demonstration, operation and testing for the invention’s actual use.
Importance of Reduction to Practice
Every savvy inventor knows that reduction to practice is a crucial element in establishing novelty and non-obviousness in a patent application. You, the inventor, has to provide proof that indeed you are the original inventor of the subject matter and the PPA is a strong proof.
The PPA is also important in establishing patent priority and, thus, rightful and legal ownership over the invention. Under U.S. patent laws, the inventor owns the patent registration rights at the time he/she reduced the invention to practice, thus, it’s important for inventors to be the first to apply the reduction to practice doctrine.
In contrast, most countries grant patent registration rights to the first person who files for the applicable patent.
The reduction to practice concept prevents other persons from stealing, borrowing, and selling prior inventions created by the original inventor even if the latter haven’t filed for a regular patent. The PPA can establish both actual and constructive reduction to practice since it must contain a description and drawings of the invention. The inventor can also include other documents to establish ownership over the invention, such as formal drawings and methods of operation.
If the invention’s practical utility isn’t evident, the USPTO examiner may request for a testing and demonstration. You should take it into account when filing for a PPA to establish reduction to practice on your part.
A good rule of thumb to remember: The less theoretical, the less abstract and the simpler the invention, the less need for showing practical utility. Brand-new technologies, for example, usually require more proof of utility while there’s little to no demonstration of utility required for improvements on existing technology.