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What countries can you file a provisional patent application in?

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The issue I have with your question is what you mean by "provisional patent application". Not many countries have the figure of "provisional" patent application (I can only think of the US and Portugal), but many countries have some kind of application or a regular patent application that is cheap and create a priority right, which I imagine is what you may be interested in.

Many European countries and the EPO accept the payment of filing/search/examination fees after filing your (regular) patent application. If you do not pay the fees, the (regular) patent application will become abandoned and will not get published, but from day 1 you have a priority right. Therefore, you can file the patent application, not pay any fees, and claim priority from that patent application during the priority year. You will also find several countries with petty patents or utility models which have low fees and create a priority right as well; usually, this type of patents/models get published after soon after filing (typically between 1 and 6 months), so if you want to create prior art quickly, this would be a good option.

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  • I think the greatest advantage of a provisional is not the primarily the low official fees, but the "unofficial" fees (attorney's fees). The latter fees are at least an order of magnitude higher then the former. To overcome this, the concept of a provisional imposing a lower burden of formal requirements is what's the most helpful. On the other hand, you can also pay the office fees later at the USPTO. In these aspects, I don't really think the legal construction of a provisional patent anywhere else exist — correct me if I'm wrong on Portugal. Sep 8 at 4:11
  • @PatentosPite As far as I know any company can file its own patent applications at least in its own country without requiring the services of a patent attorney/agent, so I cannot follow your argument. It is up for the attorney and its firm to decide what they want to charge you for filing a provisional or a non-provisional irrespective of the requirements. Sep 8 at 12:51
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One feature of the US provisional is that it does not set the date from which the 20 year life is calculated.

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  • That's interesting, I think I missed that one. And then even if the claims pass substantially as they are drafted first, you will also not be able to retrospectively enforce the exclusionary rights associated with it? Sep 8 at 4:12
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    You might be asking about provisional rights which have nothing at all to do with provisional applications. They can allow recovery of reasonable royalties back to the date of publication of the application. Since publication occurs 18 months after the earliest priority application filing, the day it publishes is no different if a provisional is filed on day X follows by a non provisional a year later or if a non provisional is filed on that same day X. So the choice does not affect those rights.
    – George White
    Sep 8 at 5:59

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