There are several options for filing a patent application.
Initially, we just want to establish a filing date, and this can be done in four main ways, specified as options in the table below. The cost of each option assumes the application is already drafted.
US provisional and nonprovisionals are exclusive: they are never done together. The PCT application is the most upfront cost, and provides an early search report with optional examination report. National applications must be pursued separately from the PCT application but are deferred due to filing the PCT application.
The most common approaches are to file a US provisional (least cost, least information) or Canadian application and US nonprovisional (moderate cost, with a slight chance of obtaining some information before foreign filing is required, and both your filings in the countries of most interest are complete).
|Canadian Patent Application||United States Provisional||United States Nonprovisional||International Application Under the PCT|
|Establishes priority date?||Yes.||Yes.||Yes.||Yes.|
|Can become a patent itself?||Yes.||No, must file a nonprovisional within a year.||Yes.||No, must be filed in desired countries within 30+ months.|
|Will be examined by the Patent Office?||Yes, if a request for examination is filed.||No.||Yes, examination fees are paid on filing.||No, but a search report is issued that is not binding on any country.|
|Timely examination report?||Only if expedited examination requested.||No.||Rarely, unless expedited examination requested.||A poor quality but timely search report is obtained.|
|Maximum Term Available||20 years from filing.||One year plus nonprovisional term.||20 years from filing plus extensions, such as due to USPTO delay.||Depends on each country the application is pursued in.|
*Amounts are approximate and vary from case to case depending on the length of the application, status of the applicant, whether an assignment is filed, whether excess claim fees are payable and other factors.