A provisional patent application gives your idea protection and patent pending status. By filing a provisional patent you get all of the rights and protections of a utility patent. The benefit of the provisional patent is the low cost. A $125 filing fee is all that is required. That is much less than the thousands of dollars that is required for a utility patent.
If you are looking for help filing your provisional patent, I suggest you use Legalzoom. You can easily create and file your provisional patent online in as little as 15 minutes.
A provisional patent can be used in many ways. Since they are inexpensive and offer patent pending protection, you can file a provisional first while you are evaluating your idea. This way you are protected while you are gathering information about your idea. You can file it during or after the development phase of the invention process or youcan file right before you are ready to start marketing your invention. It is a very flexible tool.
Most of the time, I prefer to file a provisional patent after I have evaluated the idea and I have completed most of the development. Why? What I have found is that most of the time during the development phase I will discover lots of new material that will go into the provisional patent. If I were to file the patent first and then learn of new materialthat needed to be included in the patent I would have to file another provisional. This has happened more often than I would like and has cost the extra time and expense of filing another patent.
There Are Four Components of a Provisional Patent Application
The cover sheet is a US Patent office document that needs to be filled out and submitted with the provisional patent. The cover sheet can be found at the USPTO in their forms section. The link is: http://www.uspto.gov/web/forms/index.html#startforms. Use form BTO/SB/16.
The description fully explains the invention. It is best to describe your invention in as much detail as possible citing all of the components of the inventionand how they interact and work together. An important point to consider is that any material that is not properly described in the description cannot claim the same priority date as the provisional. Priority date is the date the patent office uses to determine what is prior art to your invention. This is the main reason that I usually develop my inventions before filing a provisional patent. That way I only have to file it once.
Drawings are not required for a provisional patent application. However since a picture is worth a thousand words a patent drawing can be extremely valuable for helpingto describe your invention. If you have a drawing all of the relevant components can be labeled and discussed in the description. This is the method used in utility patents and it is the method I suggest for a provisional patent. The drawings do not have to be fancy but they should fully describe the invention and the different forms it can take.
The last component of a provisional patent is the filing fee. Last time I checked it was $105 to file a provisional patent as a small entity which most small inventorsqualify under.
Once you have your cover sheet filled out and your invention fully described by the description and drawings, mail in your check to the address on the cover sheet. In a week or so the USPTO will respond back that they received your application you will be PATENT PENDING.
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