Last updated: 
30 May 2016

A provisional application is an inexpensive way of signalling your intention to file full patent application later on. Think of it as a placeholder.

A priority date establishes the fact that you are the first person to file a new invention with us. While a provisional application doesn’t provide you with the protection of a full patent, it does give you up to 12 months to consider your options before deciding to proceed with a patent application.

If you do decide to apply for a standard or innovation patent, you can use the priority date from your provisional application. This can be particularly useful if there is a dispute over who came up with an idea first.

Other options

If you want protection for an invention with a short market life that might be superseded by newer innovations, you may consider applying for an innovation patent. The examination process is often faster than a standard patent application, and protection lasts for eight years. (The innovation patent is being phased out, learn more).

If you want long term protection for your invention, you may consider applying for a standard patent. The examination process is often longer than an innovation patent application, however protection lasts for up to 20 years.

If you are thinking about expanding your business overseas, you can consider a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application for your invention. A PCT application will give you a quick indication of whether your invention can be patented. It also allows you to decide which countries you would like to have protection in.