Nolo's Online Legal Forms - Help

Online Provisional Patent Application FAQ

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.

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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. If you are outside the U.S., or if the company that owns the rights to the invention has 500 or more employees, then you do not qualify for Small Entity Status and cannot use this program. You may consider using the services of an attorney.

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How do I know if I have ownership rights?

Your ownership of an invention may be questionable if:

You may want to consult an attorney if any of these situations apply to you.

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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.

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Is a provisional patent application right for me?

The short answer is that, generally, filing a provisional patent application makes sense if:

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.

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What are the pros and cons of filing a provisional patent application?

There are a number of benefits.

There are some potential drawbacks you should be aware of.

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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.

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What information should I have ready?

You will want to have this information handy:

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.

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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.

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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.)

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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 UPS 2-Day service. The package includes:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Where can I learn more about provisional patent applications?

To learn more about provisional patent applications and whether one is appropriate for you, visit the Patent area of Nolo's website, or read Patent Pending in 24 Hours, by Attorneys Rich Stim and David Pressman.

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