In this video, I am going to answer the question: What is a provisional patent application?

Provisional Patent Application

Read the transcript.

A provisional patent application is a patent application. It just doesn’t have all the formal requirements of a regular utility application. That is, the provisional application does not require claims. It doesn’t require an abstract. It doesn’t even require drawings. But of course, you should have drawings.

See the content requirements for a provisional and nonprovisional patent application.

When I write a provisional patent application, it is going to have claims, and it is going to have drawings. But the drawings aren’t the formal patent drawings. You don’t need to have drawings with all the reference numbers like you see in issued patents. The drawings can be sketches. In fact, a lot of the time I include photographs, especially if the inventor has a prototype or actual product of the invention. As the saying goes, a picture (or photograph) speaks a thousand words.

A provisional patent application is good in a lot of different situations.

For example, if you don’t have a big budget, a provisional application can be prepared inexpensively, especially compared to a full utility patent application. And that’s because a provisional application does not have all the formal requirements (e.g., the formal drawings and reference numbers).

A provisional patent application can also be prepared faster than a full utility patent application. For example, you don’t have to get the patent draftsman involved to prepare formal drawings or meet other formal requirements. And you don’t have to include claims (although I typically do).

Can you file your own provisional patent application?

You can, but should not. Work with an experienced patent attorney. A patent attorney can help draft a much better, stronger provisional application. Because if you forget something – leave out an important feature – it’s not protected. The provisional application only covers that which is included in the specification and drawings. If you write too narrowly, or don’t sufficiently broaden the description of the invention, you can lose important legal rights to the invention. A patent attorney can help with all of this.

Be sure to ask your patent attorney if a provisional patent application is right for you.

Watch more patent attorney videos.