Provisional Patent Application Form

A provisional patent application form is the legal document needed to put a reservation on a utility application. This provisional patent application lasts for one year.

A provisional application can be filed in an expedited manner and the fees are exponentially lower than those associated with a utility application, yet this application still grants inventors or small business owners the “patent pending” claim for their invention.

Important Tips for First-Time Applicants

If your invention is not complete and you believe it will still undergo more changes over the course of several months, a provisional application will be very useful. Any changes that are made to the non-provisional application before it is filed will be much less costly.

A provisional patent application will grant you a 12 month period in which you can file your non-provisional application. Filing a provisional patent application allows you to pay less in the beginning (however, you will need to be prepared for the costs that come with a non-provisional patent application). That 12 month period when your invention will have a “patent pending” status gives you more time to weigh the pros and cons of full patent perusal, which requires a much more expensive non-provisional patent application.

Your provisional patent application must include a “provisional cover sheet” and a “fee transmittal form”. Both of these documents are provided to you by the USPTO. When you fill out your provisional application, it must be written either by you or a professional.

Recruiting professional assistance is highly advantageous for anyone planning to apply for a patent. Working with an expert will allow you to explore various patent protection options and which one is best for you while also become more educated on the patent application process.

You can have a more comprehensive understanding of patent application processes by reading more on how to file for a utility patent. This is particularly useful because anyone who files a provisional utility patent application will file a non-provisional utility patent application is they want a patent. When you file a provisional patent application, you are able to put your name on your product and protect your investment until the approval of your provisional patent application.

A provisional patent application (often referred to as a PPA) is one of the cheapest, fastest, and most effective ways to keep patent possibilities for your invention safe while you determine whether or not a traditional patent application is the right move. In your provisional patent application, you would provide text (called a “specification”) and drawings which would give greater detail on how to create and use your product.

It is important to remember that a provisional patent application will not grant you a patent. You need to file a regular patent application (which is much more detailed) and have your patent be approved by the USPTO for your product to officially be protected by a patent.

Pros and Cons of Provisional Utility Patents


  1. It’s not as costly to file a provisional utility patent.
  2. It doesn't take as much time to file as a non-provisional utility patent does.
  3. You can legally claim “patent pending” status once you file a provisional utility patent application.
  4. That “patent pending” status grants you one full year of time to decide whether or not patent perusal is right for you.


  1. The provisional utility patent itself does not protect the invention.
  2. PTO Examination will be delayed.
  3. The majority of foreign patents must be filed in this 12 month period.
  4. Licensees do not find this patent as appealing.

All Provisional Patent Applications Include:

  1. Detailed description, summary, and one or more claims.
  2. Up to three sheets for formal drawings (any additional sheet after the first three is $100 each).
  3. Filing paperwork.
  4. Electronic paperwork.

Filing a Provisional Patent Application Online

  1. Visit the official USPTO website at
  2. Click the “Patent File Online” link.
  3. Click the “Unregistered” link for filers.
  4. Fill out your name and email address.
  5. On the next screen you will include the name of your invention and the name of the primary inventor. This name should be the same as the first inventor listed on your cover sheet.
  6. Click on the “Correspondence Address” button and type in your mailing address.
  7. Go the next page and attach three separate PDF files. For the Document Description section, make sure to pick the correct dropdown.
  8. After completing this step, click the “Upload & Validate” button.
  9. By pressing this button, you will be taken to the next page. This page should show you that your PDF files were correctly uploaded with “No Errors”.
  10. If it shows that there are errors, go back and confirm that you selected the correct document type. Another option you could try is using a PDF creator program (such as primoPDF) to re-create your PDF files.
  11. If there are no errors, click the “Continue” button.
  12. On the next page, you can calculate what you owe to the USPTO.
  13. If you are a non-profit, a business with fewer than 500 employees, or an inventor, you can click the “small entity” link.
  14. From there, click the “provisional” box. You will complete several pages and include your drawings before hitting the “calculate” button.
  15. You will be taken to the next page that provides you with your total amount due. After this page has loaded, click “continue”.
  16. The next page will allow you to review all of your information so that you can confirm it is all correct.
  17. Confirm that your three PDF files are included and review each file one more time.
  18. If all of your information looks correct, click the “submit button”.
  19. If you haven’t already paid your application fee, make sure to do that.
  20. After paying the fee, print a copy of your receipt.
  21. You will receive an official filing receipt from the patent office in three to five week. On that receipt, you will find your filing date and application number.
  22. After completing these steps, you can claim “patent pending” status.

When to Use the Provisional Patent Application Document

If you have an invention that you want to protect from being copied, a provisional patent application is beneficial. Obtain an official patent application filing date for the idea or product that you want to patent. Strive to obtain the “patent pending” status with the provisional patent application before beginning the non-provisional patent application.

The provisional patent application needs to include a cover sheet, a written descriptions which is commonly referred to as a specification, and several drawings to provide greater detail on how your invention has been made and how it is to be used. If you know you want to obtain a patent for your invention, you will have to file for a non-provisional application within the year of filing for a provisional patent application. The provisional patent application is an appealing option because it gives you an extended window to work on your invention and make any necessary adjustments. You can also claim the “patent pending” status on your invention once you have filed the provisional patent application.

The provisional patent application is also simpler to complete and submit and it provides the opportunity to establish an earlier filing date. As mentioned above, a provisional patent application allows you to claim the term “patent pending”. This is convenient because once you have this you can secure your filing date and in turn have more time to complete the non-provisional patent.

Time Limit

After the date of first public use, first publication of your idea or product, first sale, or first offer of sale, you may file your PPA up to one year in advance. When you file a provisional patent, you are not required to include documents such as a declaration or oath, formal patent claims, or prior art status (all documents that are needed with a non-provisional patent application). However, when you file a PPA, you will need to include a detailed description of the idea or product you wish to patent along with some informal drawings of your invention. You PPA cannot be accepted without either of the two items mentioned above.

Crafting Your Description

"The written description of the invention and of the manner and process of making and using the same invention must be in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art or science to which the invention pertains to make and use the invention." This is according to patent law.

Your written description has to be concise enough that someone else could replicate the process of creating the invention or use the invention. With that said, it is not necessary that the written description be watered down so much that even a layperson could follows the steps.

If you are having trouble writing your description (or specification) find helpful tips on writing the description. Use USPTO paper format whenever you are typing your papers.

Producing the Drawings

Drawings are similar for provisional patents as they are for non-provisional patents. If you feel you are not capable of completing the drawings on your own, it may be well worth it to invest in the services of a patent illustrator.

Cover Sheet

Without a cover sheet, a provisional patent application is not complete. Within the cover sheet, you must include the inventor’s name and place of residence, the invention’s title, the attorney’s registration number and name, a correspondence address, and any government agency in the United States that has property interest in the patent application. You can use USPTO Form PTO/SB/16 as your cover sheet in your provisional application.

Fee for Filing

Independent inventors and small businesses are often considered small entities. Although filing fees are always subject to chance, today, a small entity could expect to pay a $100 filing fee. You can mail a check or pay via money order to the “Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office”. There is a fee transmittal form provided by the USPTO that can be used. If you have not filed your non-provisional filing fee within the one year period, you cannot claim any provisional application benefits after it has expired.

Be as specific as possible when completing the disclosure of your idea or product in the provisional application. If more than one person is responsible for the creation of the invention, list everyone’s name on the application. For someone to be considered an inventor, they must be able to show that they made a contribution to the invention

When you file a non-provisional application, you must have at least one inventor listed who was also included on the provisional application if you want to receive any benefits from the provisional application filing date. For a non-provisional application to benefit from a provisional application, the provisional application must have a filing date and the basic fee for filing has to be paid.

If you file your cover sheet or basic filing fee on a date later than the date you filed the provisional application, you are subject to a surcharge. You cannot make any modifications to a provisional application once you have filed unless those modifications are done to ensure compliance with patent application requirements. You cannot file an information disclosure statement with your provisional application. A provisional application itself cannot mature into an actual patent. To officially secure a U.S. patent, you must file a non-provisional patent application.

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