File Provisional Patent Online

The most important thing to understand about filing provisional patent online is that it must be done properly. If the application is not filed properly, then the patent office might think that you did not really have an invention when you filed the patent application. This could be very detrimental to your case.

A poorly filed patent application can even be used against you. The court or patent office might use a bad application to show that there was no invention or that the invention was not implemented beyond simply an idea. Therefore, when filing a patent application, be sure that it is complete and that you have an actual invention that is more than just an idea.

Additionally, you wouldn’t go ask a random person on the street for advice on how to perform an appendectomy, so why would you ask someone other than a patent attorney to help you with your patent application? A patent agent or patent attorney are the only people who you should listen to regarding your patent application.

There are two types of patent applications. Some inventors are curious how they can get their idea to manufacturers or producers without having their idea stolen by those groups or individuals. This is why Congress created a specific process to protect inventions while they are in the beginning manufacturing stages. This is called the provisional patent application, or PPA.

A provisional patent application is less technical and requires less information and effort than a full patent application.

Unlike a full patent application, a provisional patent application doesn’t require all the little details about the invention, such as any artwork, all its advantages over other similar devices, or any actual evidence of the invention.

You still need to write certain parts of a provisional application, and you will want a professional to handle other parts of the application. The patent office provides what they call a "provisional cover sheet" and a "fee transmittal form" that you will need to use.

Time Limit

To best protect your invention, you should file your provisional patent application as soon as possible. The laws are changing so that the focus will be on the "First-Inventor-to-File" instead of the "First-to-Invent". You have up to one year after the first sale, first public use, or offer of sale of your invention to file a provisional patent application.

Writing Your Description

You will want to describe your invention in a way that almost anyone could understand the invention’s purpose and use. A reader should not have to be a specialist to understand your invention.

There is a balance, however. The description should not be written so simply that someone could take it each step at a time to build your invention on their own.

The USPTO says that the description should “adequately describe the full scope of the subject matter” that you are describing as being your own invention.

The description on a provisional application usually has some specific information: title of the invention, purpose of the invention, description of drawing, components or steps of the invention, how components interact or how the steps are carried out, and how to use the invention to make it work.

Some other aspects of the invention that are included in the description are the advantages of the invention and alternative ways the invention can be used.

Creating the Drawings

Often, people applying for a provisional patent will think they don’t need to have drawings. Services that are not provided by attorneys say that, too. However, if the invention can only be understood by seeing a drawing of it, then it is necessary on the provisional patent application.

To ensure that nothing is left out on the application, assume that a drawing is required for all applications. While there are exceptions to this, section 35 U.S.C. 113 of patent law says that “drawings are required if necessary to understand the invention.”

To provide an example of an invention that doesn’t require a drawing, however, chemical compounds never need drawings because their formula fully explains the compound all on its own.

Cover Sheet

There is also a cover sheet that is to be provided with a provisional patent application. This cover sheet is provided by the USPTO. The USPTO states, "The cover sheet will reveal the following: the application as a provisional application for patent; the name(s) of all inventors; inventor residence(s); the title of the invention; name and registration number of attorney or agent and docket number (if applicable); correspondence address; and any US Government agency that has a property interest in the application.”

If you need help with your provisional patent application, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.