Provisional patents are easier to obtain than you might think—but, if you need a helping hand, this guide will help you along the way! We created it for every entrepreneur who is:
Tired of reading conflicting information on provisional patents
Confused by the basics of provisional patents
In need of a quick, easy-to-understand guide on taking your idea from conception to provisional patent
Simply scroll down to read the 5 steps you need to take to get a provisional. Then, click the links after each step for more information on the topic.
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The provisional patent application is only available at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It’s a preliminary patent application, with fewer requirements than a general, full patent application. If you’re looking to file first and quickly secure your idea with legal protection (and save money on filing), then a provisional patent could be a good choice.
A provisional patent can give you the time and space to test your idea over the course of a year. If you realize that your idea needs to be tweaked, that’s okay! You still can change or add details when you apply for a full patent.
A provisional patent is the first step in building out your idea. It allows you to safely bring your idea to market with the term “patent-pending,” while buying you time to validate your idea, without having to fear whether your idea will be stolen by a competitor.
An added bonus: provisionals are cheaper than regular (full) patent applications. With a provisional patent, you can spend your much needed cash on other startup costs.
Scroll down or click to jump through the steps:
What makes your idea special?
Before you embark on your patent journey, you’ll want to clearly define your idea. The goal of defining your idea is to figure out whether or not your idea is patent worthy.
Defining your idea means answering the following questions:
What makes your idea unique?
What is the purpose of your idea?
Why is your idea better than the thousands of ideas out there?
We suggest that you take a moment and write your idea down, using only a few sentences. Does your idea seem to stand out? In order for an idea to be deemed “patent-worthy,” it must be novel and unique.
It’s okay if you haven’t fully built out a prototype yet, but you should be 100% certain that your idea is novel and unique when compared to competitors.
Think back to your customers. The same reasons that customers should buy your product (and not competitor products) are the same reasons why your idea is unique and patent-worthy.
Learn to define your idea, what makes it unique and determine if it can, in fact, be patented:
It pays to know whether you’re the first to patent.
Patent searches are a necessary component of the provisional patent process. Before diving further into the provisional patent application, we urge you to take a step back and look at the grand scheme of your competitive landscape. That way, you know exactly who has patented what idea in your industry—and you’ll save yourself from any unpleasant surprises down the road (aka finding out that your idea has already been patented by a competitor).
Being the first to patent is crucial in the provisional patent process. Plain and simple: If somebody else has already patented your idea, then you can’t apply for a patent.
Of course, in order to know whether or not your idea has been patented, you’ll need to be prepared to conduct a thorough search. A patent search consists of a regular Google search, a Google Patent search, and an academic search of published works. To get the best possible results from your search, choose specific and accurate keywords. A patent agent can help you determine which keywords to include in your search.
Ready, set, search!
Learn tips, tricks, and free tools to effectively conduct your online patent search:
The patent world is easier to navigate with friends.
Do you enjoy bureaucracy? What about reading long-winded legal documents? That’s what we thought…
There’s no shame in asking for help. In fact, collaboration makes the world a better place—and the same is true for finding help to file your provisional patent. A patent expert can help you gain an earlier filing date (which is advantageous in the patent game), can stay on top of the patent paperwork, and even draft the language in your provisional patent application—all with the goal of making your application process as smooth as possible.
However, not all patent experts are made the same. The ideal patent expert understands both the legal side of patents and the technology that clients are working to patent. And, it’s hard to find a patent expert who understands both legal and technological terms. Plus, many patent experts charge hourly legal fees which can add up to an enormous bill.
At KISSPatent, we have the legal and technological know-how to get your provisional patent application filed. As patent agents, we understand the legal side of patents—and as technology enthusiasts, we are up-to-date on the latest technological innovations, so we actually understand your idea from a technical perspective.
In addition, we offer fixed price provisional service packages to help you save money and time. You can check out our provisional service packages here.
If you’re still left wondering what kind of patent you should file for, don’t worry. We have plenty of free resources available for you to learn more!
Learn more about the many ways patent experts can help you and how to pick the right one for you:
You don’t need to be the next Picasso, but you do need to submit text and (possibly) drawings with your patent application.
While you don’t need to write an entire novel or paint a beautiful painting for patent examiners, you should be prepared to submit a cover page, written details on your idea, and accompanying drawings that help illustrate how your idea works. Although drawings are optional, it’s helpful to provide context to your idea. Every detail and formality counts when preparing your patent application.
Drawings are contingent upon your idea’s category (so yes, please feel free to consult us to understand what category your idea falls under). If you’re familiar with white-boarding your idea for fellow innovators, then you’re already on the right track in preparing your patent drawings. Can you draw a box, line, arrow, and occasional fluffy cloud? Then, congratulations—your artistic skills qualify you to complete patent drawings!
Even if you’re the best artist in the world, drawings alone aren’t enough to fully describe your idea. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but in the world of patents, a picture isn’t enough.
A provisional patent application also needs to include a text description of your idea. The drawings plus text will provide the full story of your idea to patent examiners.
Get pro tips and learn more about how to prepare your text and drawings for your application:
Let the celebrations begin!
Once you hit submit on your idea, you can share your idea with others by using the term “patent-pending.” And the great news? Investors love to see the term patent-pending next to ideas.
While you’re busy celebrating, remember that you have up to 1 year to turn your provisional patent into a full patent, or else the patent expires. However, once you obtain your full patent, your provisional will give you the added benefit of having an earlier filing date (meaning you have longer patent protection). And, you’ve already put in the work into your provisional application—so the full patent application will be much easier.
Provisional patents are the starting point for success for many startups, and can help elevate your status among investors. Filing a patent application typically increases the value of a startup by $1 million! By filing your provisional application, you also have the added security of having a filing date. Now that’s a good reason to celebrate!
Learn more about what to expect after filing and the correct steps to follow:
As you can see, it’s not that complicated to get a provisional patent on your idea, it just takes five easy steps.
Step 1 - Define your idea
A hunch is not an idea. Your idea has to be defined first, in order to get a serious legal document, a patent on it. Define your idea, so you can make sure, your idea can stand out from the crowd and it is patent-worthy.
Step 2 - Conduct a patent search
Once you know that your idea is worthy of a patent, you need to make sure that you can actually patent it. Is it patentable? Patents are granted on a first to file basis. A patent search can answer all your patentability questions.
Step 3 - Collaborate
At this point, you need some help. Besides the fact that patents are complicated legal documents, you need an expert’s help to make sure, your application will be granted. Don’t waste your time - get some expert help and collaborate with them on your patent application!
Step 4 - Prepare your text and drawings
A provisional application has some formatting requirements. You have to prepare your patent drawings, your patent explainer text and fill out the patent application cover sheet. Your expert help can do this with you!
Step 5 - Submit your idea & share with others
Get ready to file your application! Enjoy the “patent pending” benefits, now the great work can begin. You now can turn your provisional application to a full patent application. Take your time, build up your business, solidify your idea - you have a year to enjoy the security of IP protection.
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