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Ask an I.P. Attorney: Do Provisional Patents Matter?

December 27, 2017


Every so often, we'll cover a cannabis company that is announcing that it has filed a provisional patent application for some new invention or method: 


Especially as it pertains to investments in the space, readers reached out to us wanting to know how significant a provisional patent really is!


We asked Matt Miller, Principal and Patent Attorney at MG Miller Intellectual Property Law LLC for some help...


A word on provisional patents. Without a doubt, provisional patents are an important part of a company’s IP portfolio. However, the mere fact that a company filed a provisional patent doesn’t mean much without more information. This is for two reasons:


  1. Provisional patents remain secret, so unless the company makes their patent public (which they rarely do), no one will be able to know what’s in the application until a minimum of 18 months after their application gets filed. A patent’s strength is indicated by the breadth of it’s claims. However, without knowing what’s in those claims you have to take the company that owns the application at face value.

  2. Scope of the claims can change dramatically from when the application gets filed until it actually gets granted. Without being intimately familiar with the state of the art in whatever technology the patent was filed for, it is extremely challenging for someone to know the scope of the claims that will make it into a granted patent.


In short, while a provisional patent application can be a sign that a company is doing great things, press releases merely stating that a provisional patent has been filed should be examined with scrutiny. In all likelihood, research beyond what is present in the press release will be required to have a full understanding of how much value the provisional patent is going to add.




About the Expert: Matthew G. Miller, Esq. is Principal and Patent Attorney at MG Miller Intellectual Property Law LLC. Matt received formal training in chemistry at the University of Chicago, is very passionate about innovations in high technology, and is an amateur computer programmer. He uses this combination to develop creative, effective, and efficient intellectual property portfolios.


Want to share your expertise with our readers? Please contact us!

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