How to Write and File A Provisional Patent Application For A New Invention With An Example.

Patents, Prototypes, Manufacturing, and Marketing New Inventions

Provisional patent application; why I'm filing a PPA for my new invention idea for a thread locking method.






How to Write and File A Provisional Patent Application

Writing My Own PPA - A Provisional Patent Application

I've decided to go ahead and write up a provisional patent application for one of my new invention ideas, and file a provisional patent application ( PPA) with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to obtain some protection for my invention.

I've come up with a really neat new thread locking method that I think is patentable, but I am far from sure. I've searched online through the USPTO and Google Patents, but haven't seen anything at all that would make my new idea "obvious" in the eyes of a patent examiner.

The "One Year Rule"

Provisional patent applications are far different from a regular patent application.  They are kind of like a place holder.  If I "make public" my invention, I start the "One Year Rule" ticking.  After public disclosure of an invention a patent must be filed within one year or you lose the rights.  The invention simply becomes prior art. I'm thinking of using it on some parts of my selective asparagus harvester (

Since my harvester website is offering the machine for sale there may be some way that it might affect my patent rights for the new thread locking idea. Probably not, since it has not yet been incorporated into a machine.

Put Off Hiring A Patent Attorney

I don't feel qualified to write a real patent application without a patent attorney.  Patent attorneys are expensive. However, filing a provisional patent gives me an additional one year of protection.  I will have to file a real patent application within one year of filing the PPA. 

If I file a PPA now, I'll have protection from the date of filing. If I don't follow up and file a real patent application within one year the patent office throws the PPA away without ever even looking at it.  No harm done.  The down side is you spent a few hundred bucks on the filing fee.

Is My New Idea Marketable

At this point I'm not sure whether it's worth getting a patent for my new invention idea.  I don't know if it is patentable or even if it is marketable other than using on my harvesting machine.  I can use that one year period to investigate the marketability aspect.

After you file your provisional application the patent office basically files it away without even looking at it.  If you don't file a real patent application within one year the patent office throws it away without ever having looked at it.  When you file your real patent application, if you do not reference the PPA, the patent office again won't ever look at it. 

Provisional patent applications are not available for Design patents, only Utility and Plant patents.

Provisional Patent Applications Are Easy To Prepare

  • The PPA requires a detailed description of your invention describing how to make it and how to use it.
  • Drawings if needed for clarification in making and using the invention
  • A cover sheet and a fee transmittal form
  • A fee. The amount can be found on the USPTO website
  • A self-addressed return receipt postcard

If you are filing electronically, then you won't need a cover sheet or return postcard. The cover sheet gets created automatically if you file electronically.

Provisional patent applications do not require:

  •          A Patent Application Declaration
  •          In Information Disclosure Statement
  •          An abstract and summary
  •          A description of the invention's background
  •          A statement of the invention's advantages

A PPA Does Not Need Claims

A provisional patent application does not need to have claims as do real patent applications.  Since the claims legally define the scope of your protection, you don't want to screw them up.  I want a real patent attorney to work out the claims with me.

All you really need to do in the PPA is clearly describe your invention in enough detail that someone of ordinary skill in the art of whatever your patent is related to could build and use it.  On the downside, if a feature of your invention is not mentioned, then it will not obtain protection. It must be clearly revealed in the PPA to support your real patent application.

If you can't sit down and describe clearly how to make your invention and how to use it, then I would advise against writing your own provisional application.

Use Broad Coverage Language

If you do write your own PPA, be sure to make the language you use as broad as possible so as not to accidently narrow the scope of your invention.  For instance, if your invention uses a gear to transmit power from one element to another, instead of referring to it as a "gear", refer to it as a means of transmitting power from element a to element b.  Thus it could be a gear or a chain, or a driveshaft etc.

Once you have filed your PPA then you can use "patent pending" when referring to your invention.

If it turns out that your new invention idea is worth pursing, and if you are going to utilize a patent attorney, you can check with your patent attorney to see if you want to mention the PPA in your real patent application or just let it disappear. By not referencing it your filing date is a year further out and you may end up with an extra year of protection over using the PPA filing date.


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