Trademarking a new invention is a critical step in protecting yourself or your company's potential returns and reducing the risk of infringement. One of the key steps in trademarking is filing for a provisional patent, a necessary step for inventors throughout the United States. Before filing you should understand exactly what is entailed, including not only the filing process and associated costs, but also how the process works and the implications of the patent in the future. To get you started, here are some frequently asked questions regarding provisional patents to ensure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.

What is a Provisional Patent?

In simple terms, a provisional patent is a filing that preserves a prospective inventor’s rights to his or her invention and allows them to test out their invention and gauge public interest before committing to the full patent process. It is a “placeholder” that establishes a priority date and gives the inventor 12 months to build the proof necessary for a full patent application.

What is the Difference Between a Provisional Patent and a Nonprovisional Patent?

The main difference between a provisional and nonprovisional patent is that the former is cheaper and does not require an inventor to thoroughly document every detail of his or her invention. In addition, a provisional patent application does not need to be drafted with the level of detail and formalized structure that a nonprovisional patent application requires. The provisional patent essentially serves as a placeholder while the inventor works to build the case for the more expensive and legally binding nonprovisional patent application.

Do I Need a Professional to Help with a Provisional Patent Application?

The simple answer is “no.” A provisional patent application does not need to written with the same technical language and structure of a nonprovisional patent, and therefore, it is possible to write the provisional patent yourself. That said, having a professional on your team when filing for a provisional patent is never a bad idea and UpCounsel is a great place to find freelance lawyers who understand the local regulations. When looking to file a provisional patent, it’s important to work with a lawyer who will take the time to understand the minutiae of your invention and ensure that your filing is correctly done.

What are the Costs Associated with a Provisional Patent?

The cost associated with a provisional patent greatly depends on the complexity of the invention and the process you undertake to file the provisional patent yourself or hire a professional. At a base level, you should expect to pay $65-75 to file the provisional patent application, and an additional fee for a professional lawyer, who can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on the services you need.

What Kind of Work is Involved in Preparing a Provisional Patent?

Preparing a provisional patent requires a lot of vigilance from the inventor. Not only must the inventor carefully explain how their invention works, but they must also conclude the application with verifiable proof that the patent was created before its filing date. This requires careful gathering of documents and evidence that can be used to prove the date as well as a thorough explanation from the inventor.

What are the Benefits of Filing a Provisional Patent?

The primary benefit of filing a provisional patent is that it grants the inventor with a year’s worth of protection without having to commit to the full filing process. It also establishes a priority date which gives you a legal advantage in points of dispute should someone else try to claim prior invention of the patent. Furthermore, it allows you to test out the waters with your invention and dictate public interest before filing for a full patent application.


Filing a provisional patent is a very important step in protecting your invention and determining its future potential. Whether you plan on filing the provisional patent yourself or with the help of a professional, understanding the intricacies of the process is vital in order to file correctly and reap the benefits of filing a provisional patent.


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