Online Provisional Patent Application
Online Provisional Patent Application
Protect your invention, quickly and easily
Protect your invention by filing a Provisional Patent Application today! It's easy, thorough – and you don't have to pay until you're done. The Provisional Patent Application includes:
- preparation of the specification for your provisional patent application
- filing of your provisional patent application
- cover sheet preparation
- uploads of your drawings
When you are finished, we will send you the completed provisional patent application, detailed instructions, and helpful forms. For more information, download Nolo's Guide to Provisional Patent Applications for free!
Save on legal fees and time with Provisional Patent Application. Don't delay, protect your invention now!
* Micro-Entities. A micro-entity is any individual (or small business with less than 500 employees) who has earned less than $150,000 in gross income in the preceding calendar year, who has not been named as an inventor in more than four previously filed patent applications, and who has not committed to license or assign rights to the invention to an individual or entity earning more than $150,000. You can learn more about micro-entity qualifications by reviewing this article.
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Please note We believe accurate, plain-English legal information should help you solve many of your own legal problems. But it's not a substitute for personalized advice from a knowledgeable lawyer. If you want the help of a trained professional -- and we'll always point out situations in which we think that's a good idea -- consult an attorney licensed to practice in your state.
- What is a provisional patent application?
- Who can file a provisional patent application?
- How do I know if I have ownership rights?
- How many inventors can I have?
- Is a provisional patent application right for me?
- What are the pros and cons of filing a provisional patent application?
- How much will it cost to create my provisional patent application?
- What information should I have ready?
- How much time do I have to complete my provisional patent application?
- How long will it take for my provisional patent application to be filed?
- What happens after I pay?
- After I file, how do I get my Patent Pending Number?
- Will Nolo review my application or correspond with the USPTO on my behalf?
- What if I want to change something in my provisional patent interview or documents?
- Do I need professional drawings for my provisional patent application?
- Do I need a lawyer to file a provisional patent application?
- Can I file a provisional patent application outside of the United States?
- Where can I learn more about provisional patent applications?
What is a provisional patent application?
A provisional patent application (PPA) is an effective, fast, and cheap way to safeguard your place in line at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) while you decide whether to file a regular patent application. A PPA preserves your invention rights for up to one year -- without the toil and expense involved in filing a regular patent application.
A PPA consists of several pages of text (called the "specification") and drawings, both of which describe how to make and use your invention. You do not need to hire a draftsperson to prepare formal drawings as long as they -- in conjunction with the specification -- show how to make and use your invention.
Nolo's Online Legal Forms will help you create the specification, allow you to upload and review your drawings, and create the cover sheet required by the USPTO. We then submit your application electronically and send you the proof of filing with other helpful materials.
A provisional patent application will not by itself get you a patent. In order to patent your invention, you must file a regular patent application -- a more complex document -- and the patent must be approved by the USPTO. To receive the benefit of the earlier provisional patent application date, a regular patent application would have to be filed within one year.
To learn more about provisional patent applications and regular patent applications, visit the Patent area of Nolo's website.
To begin creating your provisional patent application, visit the Nolo's Online Provisional Patent Application page at the Nolo website.
Who can file a provisional patent application?
Anyone who has ownership rights to an invention can file a provisional patent application. Nolo's Online Provisional Patent Application is only suited for United States-based individuals, companies with fewer than 500 employees or affiliates, and nonprofits. In addition, the applicant must have earned less than $150,000 in gross income in the preceding calendar year, must not have been named as an inventor in more than four previously filed patent applications, and must not have not committed to license or assign rights to the invention to an individual or entity earning more than $150,000. You can learn more about these “micro-entity” qualifications by reviewing this article. If you are outside the U.S., or if you don’t meet these Micro-Entity status qualifications, you cannot use this program. You may consider using the services of an attorney.
How do I know if I have ownership rights?
Your ownership of an invention may be questionable if:
- you signed a written assignment granting rights in your invention to someone else
- you signed an employment agreement requiring you to give up all rights in advance of creating an invention (commonly referred to as a pre-invention assignment)
- you were hired specifically for the purpose of creating an invention, or
- your employer acquires a "shop right."
You may want to consult an attorney if any of these situations apply to you.
How many inventors can I have?
You must list at least one inventor, but it's fine to have more. If two or more people each make a contribution to at least one concept that makes the invention patentable, then they are co-inventors. It's a good idea to use a Joint Ownership Agreement, which will help you preserve ownership rights with co-inventors.
When you file your application through Nolo's Online Provisional Patent Application, you will receive a sample Joint Ownership Agreement with your purchase.
A company cannot be an inventor; it has to be a real person. Even if a company owns the rights to the invention and any potential patent, you must list the actual inventor in the provisional patent application.
Is a provisional patent application right for me?
The short answer is that, generally, filing a provisional patent application makes sense if:
- you perceive a chance for commercial success
- your invention falls into one of the statutory patent classes, and
- your preliminary patent search didn't uncover any similar inventions ("prior art") that would prevent you from obtaining a patent.
Nolo's Online Provisional Patent Application will help you decide whether spending the time and money on your invention is worthwhile. We only accept payment after you have made this important decision.
What are the pros and cons of filing a provisional patent application?
There are a number of benefits.
- You can take up to a year to assess whether your invention has commercial potential before you commit to the higher cost of filing a regular application for a patent.
- You can use a "Patent Pending" notice to deter others from copying your invention.
- You establish an official United States patent application filing date for your invention.
- Your application is preserved in confidence.
- You get an extra year of patent rights if your regular patent application is issued.
There are some potential drawbacks you should be aware of.
- Inaccuracy will undo your protection. Some examples are leaving out an element of your invention, failing to explain all of the operating elements, or using faulty supporting data or drawings that don't match the written description. Nolo disclaims any responsibility for applications that fail to accurately describe how to make and use an invention.
- Modifications require a new provisional patent application. Adding, subtracting or modifying parts or changing the structure or operation of the parts may invalidate your provisional patent application benefits.
How much will it cost to create my provisional patent application?
The price of Nolo's Online Provisional Patent Application is $139.00 and includes preparation of the specifications for your provisional patent application, upload of your drawings, preparation of your cover sheet, and filing of your provisional patent application. We send you the completed provisional patent application (with electronic acknowledgement of submission), detailed instructions, and helpful forms.
Note that the government-required filing fee of $65 charged by the USPTO is not included in our price. This filing fee will be added to your total at check out.
What information should I have ready?
You will want to have this information handy:
- the name of your invention
- the name and address information for each inventor
- a description of what the invention accomplishes
- drawings which, in conjunction with your written description, show how to make and use your invention
- descriptions of the parts or components, including how they connect, and
- a description of how the invention operates.
If your invention was created under a government contract, you will need to provide the name of the government agency and contract number. You'll want to consider whether there are other ways to construct your invention, and whether there might be more than one way your invention can be used.
How much time do I have to complete my provisional patent application?
You have 90 days to work on your provisional patent application without purchasing it. Every time you work on your provisional patent application through Nolo's Online Legal Forms, your answers are automatically saved in the system.
Once you complete and pay for your provisional patent application, Nolo's Online Legal Forms will store your personal information for one year.
How long will it take for my provisional patent application to be filed?
We will file your provisional patent application within two business days of receiving your order. (In the rare event that the USPTO electronic filing systems were not available, we would contact you immediately and upon resolution of the problem.)
What happens after I pay?
Immediately after purchase, you will receive an email confirming your order and giving you details about what happens next.
Within two business days, we will file your provisional patent application with the USPTO and send you a package via FedEx 2-Day service. The package includes:
- a copy of your complete application, including the USPTO electronic acknowledgement receipt
- a letter with instructions about the next steps you can take, and
- four useful agreements with instructions.
After I file, how do I get my Patent Pending Number?
After your application is filed, you'll get an Acknowledgment Receipt that lists your Application (Serial) Number and a Confirmation Number (the USPTO does not issue anything specifically called a "Patent Pending Number"). For a period of one year you can label your invention as "Patent Pending" and you are free to include the Application Serial Number. (Note: including the serial number is not required and has no legal significance.) Unless you file a regular patent application within one year of your provisional patent applicaiton, you must discontinue use of the patent pending marking.
Will Nolo review my application or correspond with the USPTO on my behalf?
No. Nolo does not provide any attorney review or advice about your application or your invention. Nolo uploads your application and cover sheet to the USPTO filing system, but it does not correspond with the USPTO on your behalf.
What if I want to change something in my provisional patent interview or documents?
You have 90 days to work on your provisional patent application without purchasing it. Every time you work on your PPA through Nolo's Online Legal Forms, your answers are automatically saved in the system.
After completing your purchase, you may no longer go back and change your answers because your order is being processed. You may, however, view your answers by signing in to Nolo's Online Legal Forms at https://nolonow.nolo.com/noe/index.php, going to Your Home Page, and clicking "edit" under Provisional Patent Application for your invention. Then click "Review Answers."
Nolo's Online Legal Forms will store your personal information for one year after you pay for your provisional patent application.
Do I need professional drawings for my provisional patent application?
You do not need to hire a draftsperson to prepare formal drawings as long as they -- in conjunction with the specification -- show how to make and use your invention. Note that the USPTO requires black-and-white drawings. If your drawings are in color, we will convert them to black and white to comply with the government rules.
Do I need a lawyer to file a provisional patent application?
No. A provisional patent application contains three simple documents (specification, drawings, and cover sheet) that don't have to be drafted by a lawyer. They contain just basic information about you on the cover sheet, detailed information about your invention in the specification, and drawings to show how to make and use your invention.
That said, if you prefer having the input of an experienced attorney, we recommend that you use a patent attorney who is licensed to practice before the USPTO. The best way to find a good patent lawyer is to get a referral from other people who have used that lawyer's services. The USPTO website (www.uspto.gov) maintains a list of attorneys and patent agents licensed to practice before the USPTO.
Can I file a provisional patent application outside of the United States?
Yes and no. When you file a provisional patent application with Nolo's Online Legal Forms, you can physically be outside of the U.S., but you must supply a mailing address within the United States -- you cannot use a foreign mailing address. Nolo will include your mailing address on your application and the USPTO will use that address to contact you if it needs to correspond with you about your PPA. Nolo will also use this address to ship the Nolo book(s) that you receive when you purchase your provisional patent application from Nolo's Online Legal Forms.