How to File Provisional Patent Online
If your invention requires protection, the initial step is to file for a provisional patent online at the USPTO. Doing this gives you an effective filing date which can then be used in filing non-provisional applications in the future.
Provisional patent applications are those which do not undergo review by a USPTO Patent Examiner but still contain enough details to describe the invention. They must also include a cover sheet identifying them as provisional patent applications.
What is a provisional patent?
If you have a new invention that you would like to protect, filing for a provisional patent application can be done. This type of application is ideal for inventors who want to save money on legal fees or don’t have enough time or resources to fully develop their ideas.
Inventors should file a provisional patent application as soon as they have enough details to fully describe their invention to the U.S. Patent Office (USPTO). Additionally, they should create an extensive set of drawings to further illustrate their concept to the USPTO.
This will grant the inventor priority over other applicants with similar or identical inventions. Typically, those who file a provisional patent first will receive it, though this isn’t always the case.
In the United States, inventors should take advantage of provisional patent applications that offer protection for up to 20 years. These documents can be an initial step toward obtaining a utility patent which grants them legal ownership over their invention for up to two decades.
Another significant advantage of a provisional patent application is that it gives inventors additional time to market their products, raise funds or refine ideas before they commit to an expensive and lengthy patent process. This expedites product launch times which in turn leads to greater success for businesses.
Unfortunately, many people are unaware that provisional patent applications differ from non-provisional applications in that a provisional application does not receive the same level of scrutiny as a non-provisional one.
Provisional applications only last 12 months, giving inventors time to find manufacturers and test the prototype of their invention to confirm it is commercially viable before engaging in the more costly and time-consuming patent process.
However, if an inventor fails to convert their provisional patent application into a non-provisional one within the one-year time limit, they will forfeit any priority that was earned during that period. This can be a major issue for those who fail to take advantage of this grace period.
How do I file a provisional patent?
Filing for a provisional patent can now be done online through the USPTO’s EFS-Web system, making it simpler than ever to get started. Just remember to complete all necessary forms and pay the filing fee to complete the process.
You must submit a written description of your invention and any drawings necessary for understanding it. Furthermore, be sure to include an address for correspondence with the USPTO.
If you are uncertain of what should go in your application, consulting with a patent lawyer before filing may be beneficial. They can assist in selecting the correct elements for your document and guarantee everything is in order.
The USPTO recommends including a drawing of your invention in your application to demonstrate how it functions. This could be an easy-to-read sketch, diagram, or drawing. Make sure the drawing fits into a standard file folder for easy viewing.
It is wise to include information about the inventors in your provisional application. Ideally, these should be individuals who had a direct role in developing the invention described in your application.
However, it’s wise to include any parties who contributed to the development of your invention. Typically, these would include individuals who worked alongside you on designing and manufacturing the product as well as those involved in marketing it.
When selecting who should be named as an inventor on your provisional application, it’s wise to consult the patent laws of the country where you plan to file. Typically, those countries allow all persons who made a contribution towards creating the invention described in your application to be listed as inventors.
In some instances, parties who are not the inventors may be eligible to assign their rights to an invention to another entity such as an employer or institution. Doing this can be advantageous since it reduces the overall ownership cost of your application.
Inventors employed by an institution, such as a university or laboratory, often need to assign their rights to their employers. This could result in the institution having an undivided ownership interest in the provisional application. Therefore, it’s wise for each person who contributed to the invention to sign a document acknowledging they have assigned their rights to the institution.
How much does it cost to file a provisional patent?
Are you an inventor wishing to secure a patent but unsure if you can afford it? Filing for a provisional patent could be your solution. The United States Patent and Trademark Office began offering this type of patent in June 1995 in order to grant US applicants parity with foreign applicants and help them sidestep an expensive patent process.
The cost to file a provisional patent depends on your business size and invention. Small entities pay $140, while large ones charge $280. To be eligible for this reduced fee, you must declare your small entity status when making payment.
In addition to filing fees, you may also need to cover other costs like lawyer fees and search/examination fees. These expenses can add up quickly – particularly if filing a utility patent application.
Attorney fees for a provisional patent application may be adjusted according to the complexity of your invention and whether you hire an in-house or external patent attorney to prepare it. Generally speaking, the more complex your invention is, the higher the cost associated with filing for this type of patent application.
If you have an in-house patent attorney, the cost to prepare and file your application can range anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000. Similarly, hiring an outside patent lawyer for provisional patent preparation and filing can range anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000, depending on their level of expertise required.
Additionally, you must pay for searches and an examination of your provisional patent. The search fee covers the examiner’s time to search three independent claims and 20 total claims; each additional independent claim beyond the third costs an extra $460, which can add up quickly.
In addition to these expenses, you must pay maintenance fees at years 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 of the patent lifespan. These costs are somewhat more substantial, but they’re an integral part of the patent process and must be paid in order to continue protecting your invention.
Startups with limited budgets should file a provisional patent application and then test out their product on the market for one year before investing more money in non-provisional patent applications. Doing this will save them money in the long run while providing assurance of patent protection for their invention.
How long does it take to file a provisional patent?
When an inventor files a provisional patent online with the USPTO, it usually takes 3-5 weeks for processing to be complete. This includes responding to any queries from the patent attorney, drafting the application and assuring it meets all necessary criteria for patent protection. It could take longer if there are still unclear areas about their invention that need further clarification.
A provisional patent offers you an early filing date, giving you priority over other inventors who try to file patent applications later on. This can be useful when it comes to securing licensing agreements or other important legal agreements that safeguard your invention from others.
Additionally, this gives you time to conduct more research into the potential market for your invention and fine-tune your product or process before filing a non-provisional patent application. This extra time can give you invaluable insight into whether or not your idea is feasible, giving you time to make necessary modifications that could enhance its chances of future success.
Another advantage is that patent prosecution allows you to test your invention before investing significant funds into it. This helps determine if your concept is feasible for production and profitable enough for you to sustain a company.
Finally, filing for a provisional patent grants you twelve months to fully develop and perfect your invention before submitting a full non-provisional patent application. This extra time can be invaluable for conducting market testing, fundraising efforts, or other important business endeavors before beginning the full patent application process.
Provisional patent applications tend to be cheaper than standard non-provisional patent applications, which can range in cost from $65,250-$280 depending on the size and number of claims included. It’s important to remember that you must pay for a full non-provisional patent within 12 months after filing your provisional application; otherwise, an additional $1,050 fee for small entities and $525 fee for micro entities may apply.