In an article titled "Protecting Your Idea: Should You Patent It?" Edward Weisz, a member of the Intellectual Property Department, discusses the timing of filing a patent application or a provisional patent application. Because the United States now has a "first to file" rather than a "first to invent" patent system, you do want to file a patent application or a provisional patent application as soon as possible. The patent application must adequately disclose the invention in order to benefit from the early filing date. A utility or plant patent will protect your invention for up to 20 years from your patent application date, and a design patent will protect your invention for 14 years from the patent grant date.
To read the article, click here.