Jon Muskin, writing on Inventor Digest, explains that there’s no such thing as a provisional patent, and other mistakes contests make on Shark Tank:

Contestants frequently make the same mistake which annoys me every time. The sharks commonly ask the contestants whether they have a patent on their invention. The contestant frequently replies with, “I have a provisional patent.” To my surprise, the sharks (who are generally very business savvy) typically accept this answer and move on. However, if I were a shark on the show I would immediately respond with “I’m out.” All inventors should know that there is no such thing as a provisional patent.

There is such a thing as a provisional patent application. However, a provisional patent application is never examined and basically serves a “placeholder” for a forthcoming non-provisional application. Anyone can file a provisional application on anything they want and state they have a provisional application. For example, someone can go out and file a provisional application on the same light bulb that Edison invented in 1879 and claim they have a “provisional patent application” on the light bulb. But of course, any forthcoming non-provisional application would be rejected by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and hence the provisional application in this case is completely worthless.

Originally posted by Dane Carlson on September 4, 2014 in Inventions.


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