How to File Provisional Patent Applications Online

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers inventors a reduced filing fee when filing provisional patent applications; however, this could result in the loss of your original priority date.

Therefore, timing is critical when selecting a provisional patent application. A wrong decision could prove costly in the long run.

1. Filing Fee

A provisional patent application is an ideal way to get your invention off the ground while still safeguarding its rights. You can file this application online for an affordable fee, but be aware that these patents only remain pending for 12 months; after this period has elapsed, you must convert your provisional patent into a non-provisional one or pay an additional fee in order for it to be issued.

Filing a provisional patent can vary in cost depending on the technology you are using and its complexity. Typically, you should budget between $2,000-$15k depending on who prepares the application and how much attorney billing time is involved.

Some people opt to draft and file a provisional patent application on their own at lower cost, while others hire a patent lawyer. On average, hiring a patent lawyer will cost between $5,000-$15,000; however, final costs may differ depending on which firm you work with and how complex your invention is.

If your company is a small entity, you may qualify for the Small Business Discount – a 25 percent reduction in your USPTO filing fee. Other small entities eligible include nonprofit organizations, universities and independent inventors.

No matter your status, it is wise to seek legal counsel from a patent attorney for help ensure that your application is complete and accurate. Doing this will save time and money in the long run.

As a general guideline, you will need to submit a transmittal form, an application data sheet and specification. Additionally, supplemental materials like drawings or tables may be needed as well.

A thorough description of your invention is necessary, along with an executed oath or declaration. It’s essential that you provide a full and accurate account so the United States Patent and Trademark Office can evaluate your claims accurately.

The cost of a provisional patent application varies based on the complexity of your invention, the technology utilized and how much attorney billing time is involved. Typically, you should budget between $2,000-$15K for an effective provisional patent application with high quality standards.

2. Documents

Before filing your provisional patent online, you must have certain documents ready. These can include descriptions of your invention as well as drawings such as line drawings, flow charts, schematics or photographs.

Written descriptions must be written clearly and comprehensively so that anyone familiar with the field can comprehend your invention. This is essential, since a filing date will only be granted to your application if it contains an exhaustive written description of your invention, in accordance with 35 U.S.C. SS112(a).

In addition to the written description of your invention, you should also include a cover sheet that clearly identifies it. This document can be found on the USPTO website and should be attached to your online filing.

Your description should provide a clear and concise overview of your invention, its workings, and how to make it. Additionally, include a diagram with both an overall structure drawing as well as pictures for each major component.

A detailed drawing can be an invaluable asset when describing your invention, particularly if it contains complex components or features. However, make sure you have a written description of your invention that thoroughly describes all relevant details.

If you don’t have a comprehensive written description of your invention, consulting with an attorney may be necessary. They can explain all your options and provide any advice necessary.

It is typically best to include patent claims with your description. These will identify who invented your invention and let you know if someone else has patented something similar.

Finally, it’s wise to include all of your invention’s iterations and variations in a provisional patent application so that you can claim priority for later filed versions of your work. Many inventions spawn child patents called continuations which all make claim to an earlier-filed provisional application.

If you have concerns about how long it will take for a decision on your application, an online form can be used to request prioritized processing. This will likely be faster than usual but ultimately it’s up to you which option works best for your situation.

3. Payment

Provisional applications differ from other patents in that they do not go through an extensive review process at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) nor do they attract an issue fee. As such, filing a provisional application only involves drafting fees and filing fees.

Once a filing fee is paid, your document will be submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). You can pay with credit card or electronic funds transfer; alternatively, mail in either a check or money order to the USPTO.

For undiscounted applicants, the fee is currently $280; small entities pay $140 and micro entities $70 respectively. If an applicant files a provisional application on a date later than their application filing date, they will be notified and must submit all filing, search and examination fees plus any late surcharge within the time period specified in their notification.

Therefore, it is recommended that individuals or companies pay the filing, search and examination fees online when filing their patent application through Patent Center. A receipt will then be sent to the applicant which remains valid for 3-5 weeks.

You may hire a patent agent or attorney to file your application on your behalf. These professionals are knowledgeable about the intricacies of the patent system and can help you avoid mistakes. They typically charge hourly rates, making them an efficient resource during the prosecution of your patent.

However, if you decide to hire a professional to file your provisional application on your behalf, make sure they are an experienced practitioner with an impressive success record. Furthermore, ensure your attorney is familiar with the United States patent system and has expertise in the technology you wish to protect.

Once you file your patent, make sure to safeguard it from prying eyes. You can do this by creating an inventors’ disclosure statement and signing an assignment of invention form for each person who contributed to your invention. These documents should remain confidential for at least 18 months after filing.

4. Confirmation

Once you file a provisional patent online, it’s necessary to validate your account in order to guarantee its functioning properly. The USPTO provides an email that outlines how to activate your account by selecting “Two-Step Authentication” when logging into MyUSPTO. If you experience any difficulty logging in, please reach out to the Electronic Business Center for assistance.

Confirmation of your filing is a critical milestone in the patent process, as it allows you to monitor its progress throughout the system and guarantee that it will be examined by USPTO patent examiners as soon as possible.

Each new provisional patent is assigned a four-digit confirmation number which appears on the cover sheet accompanying Office actions and on your filing receipt. Additionally, this number can be found on your application’s PAIR page (Patent Application Information Retrieval), which will serve as your permanent record.

Your confirmation number will come in handy when applying for an international patent or providing a copy of your application to a third-party agent or consultant.

For optimal outcomes from your application, it is essential that you carefully assess its written description and enablement requirements. These conditions must be fulfilled legally in order to grant priority date status to your invention.

For instance, the written description must provide a comprehensive and clear explanation of your invention’s operation and how it can be put to use in practice. Furthermore, it must include an organized list of claims.

Finally, ensure that all appropriate patent “claims” are included in order for your invention to qualify for patent protection. This includes not only obvious ones but also “novel” or “nonobvious” ones that pertain to a novel aspect of your creation.

When crafting your provisional patent application, the most crucial aspect to remember is that it should be easy to comprehend and comprehend. Furthermore, ensure it contains all essential elements required for successful prosecution.