Updated November 25, 2020:

A provisional patent application checklist refers to a list of things you need to do to ensure your application for a provisional patent will be approved. While filing a provisional patent does not lead to an issued patent, it can be an important measure if you wish to have more time to put together your application for an actual patent. A provisional patent is significantly easier to obtain than a regular patent. However, you still need to meet certain requirements to get your application approved.

What Is a Provisional Patent?

A provisional patent is not an actual patent. It can be regarded as an extension for a patent application. It allows an inventor to reserve an application date before submitting a formal patent application. The process of applying for a provisional patent is less formal than a regular patent application. The application does not need to include certain items, such as claims. However, it must have the three following items:

  • Patent description
  • Patent drawings
  • Inventor information.

It is essential to make sure these items are properly prepared, as they will be used as a reference for your official patent application.

Provisional Patent Application Checklist

Patent Description

Providing a good description of an invention is one of the most common problems patent applicants face. To ensure your application for a provisional patent will be approved, you need to provide as much information about your invention as possible. Your patent description should describe in great detail how the invention is created and how to use it. This description can serve as supporting information for your formal patent application if a problem arises.

You can write the description in lay terms unless you need to use technical terminology to provide a clear understanding of the invention. It must be written in clear and concise terms to enable anybody skilled in the field of the invention to create and to use the invention. This is known as the “enablement” requirement. A patent description in a provisional patent application typically includes the following information:

  • Name of the invention.
  • Purpose of the invention.
  • The invention's components or steps.
  • How the components interact with one another or how the steps are undertaken.
  • How to use the invention effectively.
  • Description of drawings.
  • Best mode of the invention.
  • Optionally, benefits of the invention and alternative ways to use the invention.

Patent Drawings

The drawings in your provisional patent application must complement your invention. They should also be clear, easy to interpret, and include measurements. Unless your invention is a method, a composition, or a chemical compound, your provisional patent application must include drawings. It is essential to pay close attention to detail because the drawings help people gain a better understanding of your invention.

It is especially necessary to include patent drawings in your provisional patent application if you are planning to apply for a utility patent in the future. The descriptions in your provisional and regular patent applications must be similar enough to assure the Examining Attorney they are referring to the same invention.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recommends the following formats for drawings accompanying a provisional patent application:

  • Any view, such as top, side, perspective, disassembled, or exploded.
  • Labeling numbers, such as figure, sheet, or reference.
  • Flowcharts or schematics.
  • Straight lines or dashed lines.
  • Color or black-and-white photographs.
  • Handmade or computer-generated drawings.

Inventor Information

Anybody who contributed to the conception or creation of your invention can be regarded as a co-inventor. Therefore, you need to provide information on all contributors. Including accurate inventor information in your provisional patent application helps protect you against lawsuits and gives proper recognition to those who deserve it. It is also important to be able to distinguish the co-creators from those who are not. For instance, a machinist you hired to make your prototype is not regarded as a co-creator, but someone who added a part to your invention's original design is considered a co-creator.

You have to make sure that at least one of the inventors listed on your provisional patent application is also included in your official patent application. If you fail to do that, the earlier application date will not apply.

If you need help creating or filling out a provisional patent application checklist, 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, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.