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Life science provisional patents: Be ready to file plenty and quickly

Chris Seper

Here’s some advice for later-stage early-stage life science companies: file patent applications early and file them often. And don’t be afraid to cast them aside.

As a company locks down intellectual property around its core technology, it should be willing – say, by the time it hits its larger Series A or Series B investment – to file scores of provisional patents around technology that, in the end, may not be worth much, Jeff Schox, the founder of SchoxPLC Patent Group, told attendees at the Kauffman Foundation’s Life Science Ventures Summit this weekend.

A new first-to-file system of patent protection which begins in March means chief technology officers, engineers, researchers and others will need to learn how to file provisional patents. And Schox suggests that such a process should cost about $5,000. By the time a company has locked down its core technologies, it should increase the number of provisional patents around features or some of the things that extend the technology.

“After you are done inventing the core technology of your company, it’s not going to feel like you have huge breakthroughs anymore,” Schox told the audience. “You are going to be advancing that (core technology) but in smaller ways. But this is still how you build your portfolio.”

In the end, you will wind up jettisoning some provisional patents on technology that turned out to be useless. But that won’t matter, because no one will know about it. Provisional applications are never publicly viewable unless they are converted, Schox said.

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