How to Get a Provisional Patent?

If you’re an inventor and you want to protect your invention or start using the words “patent pending” you can do so by submitting a provisional patent application to the USPTO. We are including a step-by-step guide to get a provisional patent, so scroll down to find it (we’ve included pictures). It will guide you through the online application process. Please note we are not your attorney and we are providing this guide for informational purposes only.

To get a provisional patent, an inventor needs to prepare and file a provisional patent application with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). This can be done, by heading over to the USPTO website and filling out the required information for a provisional application.

What makes inventors want to get a provisional patent? The main thing that attracts inventors to provisional patents is that they’re relatively easy to prepare when compared to regular, nonprovisional patent applications and they’re also less expensive. That said, it’s important to note that provisional applications do not turn into patents.

To obtain a patent, an inventor must either convert a provisional application into a regular, nonprovisional application or file a nonprovisional patent application that claims the early filing date of a provisional patent application. This has to be done for an inventor to obtain a patent, if an inventor does not covert it for file a nonprovisional application, the provisional application will be abandoned.

Step by Step How to Get a Provisional Patent

To get a provisional patent, you have to follow these steps:

  • Head over to the USPTO website: USPTO.gov

    Once you’re at the USPTO website, click on Patents Tab and then navigate to and click filing online.
How to get a provisional patent?
  • Once you’ve clicked on file online, you should get another page. On this page, click on Open EFS Unregistered.
  • Once you’ve clicked on file online, you should enter the required information, such as your name and email address. Also, select utility patent and provisional patent as shown in the photo below.
  • Now, you have to enter a title for your invention, as well as the name of the inventor, and the address where you want to receive mail about your invention.
  • Now, you have to attach some documents by clicking on the choose file button, you have to attach the following files:

    • Transmittal of a new application: This PDF file should be your provisional patent application.

    • Specification: The specification must include a description of the invention you’re claiming you invented.

    • Drawings: Drawings of the invention you want to patent.

  • Now, you have to click the validate and review button, then you will be greeted by the following page:
  • Now, you will have to do the following:
    • Select provisional patent as indicated by the arrow
    • Select no for patent application originally filed in paper
    • Enter the number of pages
    • Click Calculate as indicated by the arrow
    • Continue to pay the required fees
    • Click continue
    • Pay the required fees

How Long Does a Provisional Patent Last?

A provisional patent application lasts for 12 months. If an inventor does not convert a provisional patent application into a nonprovisional patent application within the 12 month grace period or does not file a nonprovisional patent application that claims the benefit of an earlier-filed provisional application, the provisional patent expires or is deemed as abandoned by the patent office. If this happens, you lose your priority date, so if some else files a patent application for the same invention, his invention will have priority over yours. This is definitely not a situation that you want to be in.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Provisional Patent?

The cost to get a provisional patent depends on whether an applicant is preparing the provisional patent application on his own or is having an attorney prepare the application. If you’re having an attorney prepare and file a provisional application for you, expect to pay approximately $1500 to $3,000 in attorney fees.

Filing a provisional patent application is relatively cheap, here is what you should expect to pay:

  • Micro Entity: $70
  • Small Entity: $140
  • Large Entity: $280

The amount you need to pay to file a provisional patent application depends on the size of your business. If you’re an individual inventor, expect to pay the micro-entity filing fee of $70.

What are the Benefits of Filing a Provisional Patent Application?

The main benefit of filing a provisional patent application is that it allows an inventor to reserve an early filing date. This is especially important in the United States, which is a first to file and not a first to invent country. First to file means that an inventor who first files a patent application gets to patent the invention and any subsequent inventors who file a patent application will not be able to patent their invention.

For example, if you invent a new type of paper clip and your neighbor invents the same paper clip and goes to the patent office and files a patent application before you do, your neighbor will obtain a patent and you won’t be able to patent it. This because of the first to file rule in the U.S.

So, if you have an invention, don’t wait for too long to patent it, especially if you’re invention is in a competitive field. Filing a provisional application can secure an early filing date for your invention.

The second benefit of filing a provisional application is that the moment you file a provisional application, you can begin marketing your invention as patent pending. Investors like it when an invention or product is patent pending because it shows them that the IP is in the process of being protected, making it worth their time to invest in.

What’s the Difference Between a Provisional Patent Application and a Nonprovisional Patent Application?

A provisional patent application acts as a placeholder in time for a later-filed nonprovisional patent application. A provisional application does not turn into a granted patent. A nonprovisional is known as a regular utility patent application, this application is a complete patent application that does turn into a granted patent.

So, why do people choose to file a provisional application instead of a regular, nonprovisional patent application because it’s quick to file and costs less to prepare. That said, inventors often overlook the importance of a provisional patent application.

They believe because it’s easy to file that they shouldn’t give it as much attention as a full patent application. We are here to let you know that you should spend a good amount of time to thoroughly describe your invention because if you want to file a nonprovisional patent application that claims the benefit of an earlier-filed provisional application, the description in the utility application must match the description of the provisional application.

If the description doesn’t match you won’t be able to claim the early filing date. This usually means trouble if someone else has filed a patent application for the same invention after you filed your provisional application.

Do You Need a Lawyer to File a Provisional Patent Application?

Althouttorngh the USPTO does not require you to have an attorney to file a provisional patent application, they do recommend that you hire an attorney to assist you with the preparation and filing a provisional application.

The patent office makes this recommendation because patent law is complex and making seemingly minor mistakes on the application could cause costly mistakes down the road. So, if you have an invention that’s important, it’s worth your time and money to obtain the assistance of an attorney.

If you don’t have the money to hire an attorney, you can hire a patent agent to assist you with your application. Patent agents are registered with the patent office and have passed the same patent exam that attorneys have passed to represent clients before the USPTO.

So, look for an experienced patent agent instead and have them assist you. They are often cheaper than attorneys because they don’t have the general legal education that attorneys do, but they’re qualified to assist inventors with preparing, filing, and prosecuting their patent application.

Obtaining a Provisional Patent

We described how to obtain a provisional patent in much detail. You must first start by preparing and filing a provisional patent application with the patent office. Doing so gives you instant patent pending status, allowing you to market your invention as patent pending. We also included step-by-step instructions on how to fill out and prepare a provisional patent application form online. That said, if you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.