The best way to protect your idea or invention is to obtain a patent for it. A provisional patent will protect your idea or invention for one year from the date of filing, during which your idea will be “patent pending,” and no one will be able to claim it.
A provisional patent application is not an official patent application. It is merely a placeholder designed to protect your idea and buy you time to do extra research and get the funds you need for a non-provisional patent application. In other words, it is the fastest, easiest and cheapest means of getting temporary protection for your idea or invention.
Filing A Provisional Patent
One admirable thing about filing a provisional patent is that it doesn’t require the services of a professional and it is something you could do on your own once you know how and where to make the application. In this manner, you get to save a good amount of money which you would have paid to a patent attorney.
However, going the attorney way is always recommended if you can afford it, but if that is not possible, here are some of the ways you could use to file for a provisional patent yourself-:
Filing online is one of the most preferred steps by individuals who need to file provisional patents themselves. It is fast, affordable and convenient in the sense that you can do it from anywhere provided that you have access to the internet. Here are the ten steps you need to file a provisional patent online:
- Log into the United State Patent and Trademark’s Office (USPTO)
- On the website, locate the “patent files online” link
- Choose the “Unregistered” filer option
- Fill in the form with the relevant details. In the midway of the form, click the “Utility” Patent option and a drop-down menu will appear, where you will choose “Provisional” as the type of patent being applied for. Click “continue” at the bottom of the page.
- Give all the required details of the forms, including the correct information on your mailing address on the section under “Correspondence Address.” Once done, click the “Continue” button.
- At the “Document Description” area, choose the appropriate description of your documents (usually required in pdf), then click “Upload and validate.”
- If the uploading and validating are successful, you will get a “No validation error found” message, but in case of any errors, you will have to double check the document description and ensure that it is in the right format.
- With no errors found during the upload, complete the remaining pages and click “continue” so that you are informed about the total amount due.
- The next page is purely for verification. Go through all the information you have given and double to check to ensure they are correct before you click the “submit” button.
- The last step is to submit payment. Without this, the provisional patent will not be accepted. For online payments, be sure to print out the receipt. An official receipt will also be sent to you via mail by the patents office. It may take up to five weeks to get the receipt, showing the official application number and the date you did the filing.
Filing through mail
The other way to file a provisional patent yourself is via mail. For this, you will have to go to the USPTO’s official website and download the “Free Transmittal Form” and the “Provisional Cover Sheet.” These will be included with a self-addressed postcard.
The postcard is where you list the items you are filing. The USPTO will then stamp the card upon receiving it and send it back to you. If you want to be more careful, however, you may consider using USPS Express mail with a return receipt for extra security.