Filing a Provisional Patent

Filing a Provisional Patent

Date: May 29, 2008

Filing a Provisional PatentFor 99% of inventors, filing a provisional patent is a smart decision. But what exactly is a provisional patent? What separates it from a “real patent?” The short answer is: a few hundred dollars and a lot less paperwork. But there’s more to it than just that. A provisional patent is a way for you to stake your claim, to get your application into the USPTO’s system, while you decide whether it would be worth it to get full patent protection.If you have ever seen a label that read “Patent Pending”, you know what a provisional patent is. For 12 months, you get the full protection a patent offers. In that time, smart inventors hustle to see whether or not there is a real market demand for their invention. If nobody is all that interested, they know it would be a waste to spend the time and money getting a full patent. If they are interested, they know it will be money well-spent. If you do decide to apply for a non-provisional (full) patent, your provisional patent is used as a starting point.

This is the USPTO’s official application for provisional patents.
Unfortunately, while it spells out each step of the process, it isn’t exactly what you could call “user-friendly.” So let’s dive into the meat and potatoes ourselves.

There are two main parts of a provisional patent application. The first part is the written description of what your patent covers. Arguably, this is the most important part of the application and the one you should spend the most time and energy making sure is accurate. offers some helpful tips in this regard:

Writing Your Description

Under patent law “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.”

“Skilled in the art or science” is a somewhat subjective legal standard. If the description of your invention is so secretive that it would take a person of extraordinary skill to reproduce or practice the invention, that would not be considered clear or concise. At the same time, the description does not have to be so step-by-step that a layman could reproduce the invention. also has an article called “Tips on Writing the Description.” It will prove very helpful when you sit down to tackle this crucial task.


Above all, remember that your written description should be airtight: exact in every way, with every trace of vagueness cut out. When it comes to intellectual property, vagueness equals death.

The second part of the provisional patent application is drawings. This, obviously enough, is where you graphically represent what is going to be patented. However, there are some conventions that you should adhere to during this process. To follow them, consult these handy guides from
– Creating Patent Drawings For A Utility Patent
– Tips on Making Patent Drawings
– The Rules For Patent Drawings

Another article discusses the USPTO’s standards for drawings, which are exact. Rather than conventions, these are requirements that absolutely must be satisfied for your provisional patent application to even be taken seriously. Some of them include size, dimension, type of paper, and formatting. You can read about them all in a simple, easy-to-follow fashion here.


If all of this seems daunting, it really isn’t. Once you acquaint yourself with what’s required you will find that it is not all that difficult to comply with the USPTO’s requests on drawings.

Finally, your application must also include the filing fee and a cover report with the following things on it.

– the application as a provisional application for patent;
– the name(s) of all inventors
– inventor residence(s)
– title of the invention
– name and registration number of attorney or agent and docket number (if applicable)
– correspondence address
– any US Government agency that has a property interest in the application.

Make sure all these things are taken care of, and you will be well on your way to being the proud owner of a provisional patent! And remember that once your provisional patent is approved, the clock is ticking. You have 12 short months to drum up interest in your invention and see if it will fly. Take it to trade shows, demo it for customers, do all you can to see whether it is worth getting a full patent. If you are smart and diligent, a year is plenty of time to do this type of research. In fact, it’s why the provisional patent exists at all!

That is the unique benefit and advantage that a provisional patent offers you. Best of luck!

About the author of this article:

Eric Corl is the President of Idea Buyer llc, a marketplace for new technology and products that gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. you can email him at you can visit the site by visiting this address; new technology and products, patents for sale.