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Buying Time

Have a great idea, but you're not quite ready for a patent? A provisional patent protects your rights--and ''holds your place'' in the Patent Office's line.

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This story appears in the March 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The question I get asked the most is, "If I don't have enough money for a patent, what else can I do?" In the long run, a patent is the only way to protect your invention. However, in June 1995, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) created another way to protect your invention and buy you some time. For a small fee, you can file a provisional application for a patent.


Tomima Edmark, the woman famous for her Topsy Tail invention has now turned her creative talents to the competitive retail arena of intimate apparel, HerRoom and HisRoom.

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