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Provisional Patent Application: Benefits and How to File

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What is a Provisional Patent Application?

A provisional patent application is a legal document that allows an inventor to file for patents without a formal patent application. Provisional patent applications give the filer a year to determine whether their invention will make enough money to justify securing a patent on their intellectual property. A patent can reserve an invention’s size, design, or impression solely for the use of the inventor.

How to File a Provisional Patent Application?

Filing a provisional patent application is a vital first step to protecting an inventor’s intellectual property. This is important because without a patent application, certain aspects of a product such as the size, design, or expression is free game for others to use freely and profit off of. Intellectual property lawyers can assist with filing provisional patent applications and are well-versed in the procedures to filing.

The easiest way to file a provisional patent application is by following a simple six-step process:

Step One: Research Your Invention

The first step in filing a provisional patent application is verifying the exclusivity of your invention. If someone else has already came up with the same idea or if the idea is too obvious, submitting a provisional patent application could be a waste of time. Make sure to do your research in ensuring that your invention is new and unique before moving forward.

A great way to make sure your invention fits the requirements for a provisional patent application is to perform a patent search. This can be done at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) website, where you can perform a claims patent search using a variety of keywords to accurately vet your invention.

Step Two: Gather Patent Information

A provisional patent application should include plenty of product-specific information about the item you wish to patent. To prepare for the next steps, you will need to compile as much information as you can about your product. Here are a few pieces of information you will need to compile and organize:

  • Specifications
  • Drawings
  • Abstract
  • Invention status
  • Intended use
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Step Three: Write a Coversheet

The coversheet is a vital piece of any provisional patent application. Coversheets are required with each application and should include all of the following:

  1. Names of all involved inventors
  2. Inventors’ addresses
  3. Name of invention
  4. Name and credentials for attorney or agent and any applicable docket numbers
  5. Correspondence address
  6. If a government agency has interest in an invention, that must be disclosed here

Step Four: Prepare a Product Description

An accurate product description is another important part of the provisional patent application. Make sure to include specification information such as the product’s dimensions. Any shop drawings, abstracts, or schematics should also be enclosed in this portion of the application. It is vital that the product description is as detailed and specific as possible, so make sure to include all applicable product details.

Step Five: Review and Edit

Take a moment to review your application, paying special attention to any spelling or grammatical errors. This is also a great time to review any notes or outlines you used to prepare your application and make sure all the information you have on your product is included in the provisional patent application.

Step Six: Submit Application

When submitting your provisional patent application to the USPTO, you should ensure you have the means to file a formal patent application within 12 months of filing your provisional application. Keep in mind that provisional patent applications cannot be renewed or extended, so timing is everything. When submitting the application, you can expect to pay anywhere from $65-$280 in filing fees .

Once your application is submitted, you can begin selling, marketing, and even further developing your invention immediately. Applications can be submitted digitally by facsimile or email, in person, or via mail.

Get more details about how to file a provisional patent application here .

Costs of Provisional Patent Applications

Provisional patent applications are attractive to inventors because they are much less costly that traditional patent applications. Patent lawyers can make the process smoother, but they are not always needed to draft a good application. In fact, many inventors opt to create their own applications to save capital for marketing, product development, or even formal patent applications and legal fees.

Here are a few costs that applicants should plan for when drafting a provisional patent application:

  • Filing fees
  • Lawyer fees (if applicable)
  • Time spent doing research

Get more information about provisional patent applications here .

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Benefits of Provisional Patent Applications

Provisional patent applications provide specific benefits to inventors. They are valuable for their protection against others stealing inventors’ work. Additionally, they pave the way to filing a legally-binding patent within 12 months of the provisional filing date. Ultimately, provisional patent applications were created specifically for the benefit of inventors.

Here are some of the main benefits to filing a provisional patent application:

  • Product Protection: By filing a provisional patent application, applicants can protect themselves from losing money in the event that another manufacturer or inventor attempts to make a similar product. When it comes to marketing a new item, getting to the market first is essential to the success of many, so provisional patent applications are a great option.
  • Reduced Cost: Provisional patent applications are well-known for their low cost when compared to traditional patent applications. They are simple enough to construct alone, which eliminates the need to pay costly lawyer fees. The filing fees are also affordable, ranging anywhere from $65-$280 each.
  • Patent Pending: Perhaps the most sought-after benefit of submitting a provisional patent application is the ability to use the term “patent-pending” for a product. A product stamped with this term is likely to have better market performance since its legitimacy is backed up by a patent.
  • Time to Develop: Since inventors are given twelve months between the time a provisional patent application is filed before they must submit a nonprovisional patent application, inventors have more time to develop their product before filing for a traditional patent. This time can be used for marketing, fundraising, or even more fully developing products.
  • First to Market: Any time a new product comes out, the first item or brand to hit the market usually does the best in terms of profit and likeability. When inventors file for a provisional patent, they are protecting their right to go to the market with their item first. This gives their products a better chance of being successful and profitable.
  • Investors: A well-written provisional patent application tells you everything you need to know about a new product. This can make investors more comfortable with giving their capital out to invest in new companies.

Find out more about the benefits of filing a provisional patent application by reading this article .

Get Help with a Provisional Patent Application

Are you ready to file a provisional patent application and need help from a professional to complete the process? Post a project on ContractsCounsel today to connect with trademark lawyers who specialize in provisional patent applications.


ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.


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