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How to File a Provisional Patent Yourself

How to File a Provisional Patent Yourself

Here are the steps to file a provisional patent application by yourself at the USPTO website:

1. Go to the USPTO website, and hover over quick links at the right side of the page.


2. Select the second option ‘EFS-Web’ at the left side of the menu, or simply visit the following link for direct access: 


3. 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.


step 1-how to file a provisional patent


Tip: Check out our animated video tutorials to learn more about patent law. We promise we made them interesting!




4. 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.



5. 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.


Continue to Page 2 >>>


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Page 4 – Filing a Provisional Application

11. 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.


step 7- how to file a provisional patent


12. 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.  Note: effective January 16, 2018 fee for filing a provisional patent application, as a small entity has increased to $140 ($70 for micro entity).



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.



Page 3 – Filing a Provisional Application

9. 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.


step 5- how to file a provisional patent


10.  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 contain 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.

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Page 2 – Filing a Provisional Application

6. 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.


step 2- how to file a provisional patent 


7. After completing the inventor information, provide the inventor’s mailing address and then select the option to provide a correspondence address.


step 3- how to file a provisional patent


8. 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).


step 4- how to file a provisional patent


Entity Status Explained:

1. Micro entity status: You can qualify based on income  or education. For income based qualification entities or inventors need to (i) have less than 4 prior patent application (excluding provisional applications or any application assigned to previous employer) (ii) have a gross income less than 3 times the median household income in the U.S. for the preceding calendar year ( currently at $177,117 (per the USPTO) (iii) have not assigned, licensed, or conveyed an interest in the invention to an entity that had a gross income of more than $177,117, and (iv) qualify for small entity (below).

For micro-entity status, 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.


2. Small entity status: Entities that have less than 500 employees and have not assigned, licensed, or conveyed an interest in the invention to an entity with more than 500 employees qualify for small entity status.


3. Large entity status: Those who do not qualify for micro or small entity status.


Please check out the current fee schedule here to determine the fee you’ll need to submit with your application.


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How to Write a Provisional Patent Application by Yourself

 How to get patent pending without an attorney

If you can’t afford a reputable patent attorney, you may attempt to draft and file a provisional patent application by yourself. While we cannot advise if it will be worth going this route, it is possible to attempt to secure your patent rights by filing a provisional patent application. However, please bear in mind, a badly drafted provisional patent application can cause more harm than good and you should not be writing your own patent application unless as a last resort.

Tip: Check out our animated video tutorials to learn more about patent law. We promise we made them interesting!

provisional patent

Steps to write a patent application by yourself:

1. Prepare a disclosure about how to implement your invention. You can use our sample provisional patent application template as a starting point. Make sure you follow all instructions provided in that document. 

2. Provide drawings and flow charts and explain those figures in your disclosure, be thorough and provide as much detail as possible. 

3. If appropriate, your drawings and flow charts should also explain the process of how to make and use the invention.

4. Explain things as if you were trying to teach your invention to a child. That means document information that you may presume to be obvious.

5. Go to the USPTO’s website and file the application electronically. You can follow our detailed instructions on how to file  a provisional patent application by yourself.




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Provisional Patent Example

Provisional Patent Example

A provisional patent example template is provided free of cost, for personal use only.

Please follow all the instructions provided on page 1 of the template. By using this template you agree to abide by the conditions provided in there. To write your disclosure, make sure you also follow all the instructions provided in our Patent Pending in $65 post.


Once you have written your disclosure review it thoroughly before contacting a patent professional to review your documents.

To file your application, follow the do-it-yourself provisional patent filing instructions.   

As a reminder, do not forget to remove the front sheet (page 1) of the template before filing your application.

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