Filing My Provisional Patent Application Online Myself - How I did it step by step.

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How to file your own provisional patent online - Step by Step Instructions.






Filing My Provisional Patent Application Online

Drawings and Figures

I just finished filing a provisional patent application online.  It was pretty easy and it cost a total of $110. 

Here I will present step by step instructions showing you how to file your provisional patent application online.

I will need to file a real patent application within a year from filing the provisional application.  I recently purchased a book about patenting your own patents, and as a result I decided to do this provisional patent myself online.  If you are inexperienced in the field of patents then I would highly recommend that you get one of the many good books available and read it. 

I've obtained utility patents and design patents over the years and had many patents rejected and abandoned. I think I have 14 issued patents and now two patents pending at the moment.  Reading this book was a huge eye opener for me.  After all these years I am beginning to understand this patent stuff.

I even think I may try writing the real patent application myself.  I will still use a patent attorney when I file the real patent application, but I think that my attorney will only have to review it and maybe make some changes and this will reduce the cost substantially.  The main reason though is because I think I will be able to obtain broader and stronger coverage than the patent attorney since I am so familiar with my invention.

The book I read was " Patent It Yourself" by David Pressman.  I bought the Kindle version but it is available here at Amazon in paperback as well as the Kindle version. Patent It Yourself: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Filing at the U.S. Patent Office

A provisional patent application (PPA) is a short version of a patent application and is therefore much easier to write and file than a real patent application.

What you will need in order to file a provisional patent application online:

1. A detailed description of the invention that describes how to build it and how to use it.

2. Drawings if needed to understand the description.

3. Cover sheet. (PTO Form SB/16)

4. Application datasheet (PTO Form SB/14)

5.  $110. You can pay by credit card if filing electronically.

Detailed description of the invention

Since a provisional patent only requires a complete, clear, and concise specification or description of the invention and does not need to include such things as claims, background, and prior art disclosure all one really needs is that good detailed accurate description of the invention.

I'm not going to get into the details about how to write a good specification. The book I recommended does a very thorough job of that if you feel the need for expert advice.

Your detailed description should be written for someone of "ordinary skill in the art".  That means that if you are working on an invention about a new kind of water pump for car engines, a car mechanic would certainly be someone of ordinary skill in the art.  If you are inventing a new type of solar cell for producing electricity, then I would suspect an electrical engineer would be someone of ordinary skill in the art.

Drawings for the provisional patent application.

The provisional application doesn't require formal drawings.  You just have to be sure your drawings are clear and readable so that when the patent examiner reviews them he will be able to understand your invention.

Cover Sheet - PTO Form SB/16

The cover sheet is just a form you fill out. You can download a PDF form from the USPTO website, fill it out, and save it to send to the USPTO when you file. 

Go to the USPTO site, 

In the pull-down menu on the left side of the top navigation bar under "Patents" click on "Patent Forms". This takes you to the forms index page, and if you scroll down you will find all the forms. Click on the form you want to open it.

This link should take you directly to the cover sheet form.  Download it and take a look.  It's pretty simple.  If you hold your curser over a blank it will often give you tips and suggestions about filling out that particular blank.

Application Data Sheet

The application data sheet is just another form you need to fill out.  It's PTO Form SB/14.  Here is a direct link:

Nothing difficult, just contact information and stuff like that.

Patent Filing Fees - The Money part.

You can pay by credit card online, or mail a check, money order, or credit card info.  I filed my provisional application, but when I tried to pay by credit card the USPTO website was down so I could not pay online at the time I filed.  It turns out that if you are an unregistered user, which I was, you don't get another chance and have to send the money by mail. You might have a FAX option... I don't recall.

To pay by mail I had to fill out a Fee Transmittal Form, PTO SB/17

You mail a check and the form to the address at the bottom of the form.

Time to File your Provisional Patent Application

What I did was to put all the documents into a single folder so it would be easy to find them when it came time to upload them to the the USPTO's EFS (Electronic Filing Systrem).

All of your documents need to be converted to PDF files for the patent office.  There are free downloadable programs that will convert your documents to PDF files.  One such program is CutePDF.  Just Google it.

Continued on the next page:  Step by Step Instructions - File a Provisional Patent Application Online  


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