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19. What is a provisional application?

Provisional applications were introduced by the PTO in 1995. The preparation requirements for a provisional application are much less complex than for a regular application, and the filing fee is only $130 for a Small Entity and $65 for a Micro Entity. However, a provisional application is not examined by the PTO, and can therefore never result in the issuance of a patent. The provisional application must be followed up by a utility application within one year of filing. Provisional applications can be useful where research relating to an invention is ongoing and improvements are expected within one year, or where time is needed to evaluate marketability, obtain financing, or arrange manufacturing or licensing. It is noted however, that while the format requirements of the provisional are relaxed, a provisional should still contain a complete disclosure of the invention.

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