Here we provide instructions on how you can file a provisional patent application by yourself.
A step-by-step guide for filing a provisional patent application online at USPTO:
1. Go to www.USPTO.gov and hover over patents at the top menu.
2. Under Tools and Links, select ‘About EFS-web’.
3. Select the second option titled ‘Launch EFS-Web Unregistered eFiler, or click on this link for direct access: https://efs.uspto.gov/EFSWebUIUnregistered/EFSWebUnregistered
4. Fill in your name and email address, and then select ‘New application/proceeding’. A new box will appear, there you select Utility, then ‘Provisional’, and click continue, as shown below.
5. In order to continue filing the provisional patent application, on the next screen, select the second radio button titled ‘Web Based ADS‘. You have an option to either complete this form or complete a provisional cover sheet form, SB/16 which can be downloaded from the USPTO website. Here, we’ll continue with the Web Based ADS instead of SB/16.
6. As soon as you click on Web Based ADS, new fields emerge. While this form may seem complicated and long, do not worry — you’ll be only completing a few sections.
7. The Web-Based ADS is a long form since it is also used with non-provisional application filings; for provisional applications most of the form can be ignored. Specifically, for a provisional application filing, you’ll need to complete only the following sections: (i) inventor information, (ii) Mailing Address of Inventor, (iii) Correspondence Address, (iv) Invention Information, and (v) Signature section, as shown below. You should ignore all other fields of the Web-Based ADS form.
8. After completing the inventor information, provide the inventor’s mailing address and then select the option to provide a correspondence address.
9. Now scroll down until you find the section titled Invention Information. Here you’ll provide the title, number of drawing sheets, and whether small entity is claimed (more on this further).
A note regarding entity status: Unless you are associated with a huge for-profit corporation (with more than 500 employees), every individual inventor will qualify for small-entity status. Claiming small entity status reduces your filing fee to 50% (currently $130 after the reduction).If you qualify for micro-entity status (which will further reduce your gov. fee to 75%, or $65), you’ll need to complete and upload a separate form SB/15A (if qualification is based on income) or SB/15B (if qualification is based on institution of higher education). Individuals should only consider completing SB/15A, if they qualify based on income. Qualification details are provided in each respective form. If claiming micro-entity seems too complicated (which it can be), you can simply ignore the micro-entity status, claim small-entity and pay the extra $65 gov. filing fee.
10. Complete the signature section, make sure you write your name between two forward slashes (the same slash used in a web url, that is, “http://” So if your name is Joe Smith, your signature would be /Joe Smith/. Provide your name underneath, as shown. Then click on continue.
11. On the next screen you’ll see the information you entered on the top section. On the bottom section you’ll be prompted to upload the documents, in PDF format. In this example, we have used two files. First is the provisional application disclosure including the specification, claim, and abstract. The other file has the drawings. Since the first document has multiple documents, we selected yes for “Does your PDF file has multiple documents?” The field will then change to as displayed below. We’ll be selecting “Application Part” as the category for all documents uploaded for filing the provisional application and select “Specification,” and “Claims” for the document description. You may also provide an “Abstract,” but it is not needed (and we have skipped it in this tutorial). Provide the corresponding page number associated with each document type. Once all the documents are uploaded click continue.
A note about documents: Alternatively, you can upload the specification, claims, and abstract as individual PDF files, and in that case you will select “No” for the question, just like we did while uploading the drawings.
A note about drawings: As you can see we selected “Drawings – other than black and while line drawings” as the document description. it is recommended to do so even if you are uploading line drawings.
A note about the specification: Please ensure your specification starts with a heading “United States Provisional Patent Application,” or any similar marking that identifies the application as a provisional application.
12. You are almost done! On the next screen select the entity status of which you’re claiming eligibility, and from the following section, select ‘Provisional’ as the application being filed (that should be the only available selection). If your application is more than 100 pages (including drawings) provide the number of pages. If it is below 100, you can ignore providing the number of pages (like we have done). Click (i) Calculate and then (ii) Continue.
13. And finally, you’ll see a summary section providing the fee that needs to be paid, and a summary of documents uploaded. Make sure you complete and upload the micro-entity form (SB/15A or 15B) if you’re claiming micro-entity status. Please review the information and click Submit You’ll be taken to a page where you can pay the fee and complete the filing. An application number will be awarded to you. We encourage that you save all documents generated by the filing system in a secure location.
Please note one is always encouraged to seek professional legal help before filing a provisional patent application, as an incorrect filing can do more harm than good. We also encourage you to read our post on how to select a patent attorney.