Provisional Patents

              A provisional application is an application filed with the Patent and
Trademark Office ("PTO") that is directed toward preserving and securing certain
patent benefits for an invention without incurring the cost of filing a regular
(non-provisional) patent application.  The major benefits of provisional applications are
lower cost, preservation of a patent filing date and the use of the "patent pending"
notice.  The disadvantages include the lack of PTO review, that it cannot by itself
mature into an issued patent and no patent exclusion rights exist until a regular patent
issues.  A provisional application preserves a filing date for a regular patent application
that is based on and refers to the provisional application IF the regular patent
application is filed within 12 months of filing the provisional application and the
provisional application fully discloses and describes the same invention.  The PTO
does not review the provisional application for patentability, the application is merely
given a filing date and placed in a file system that is purged approximately one year
from filing.