General Question

pallen123's avatar

What's the easiest way to file a provisional patent?

Asked by pallen123 (1514points) May 26th, 2010

I have designed a simple consumer product and believe I want to file a design patent. Should I submit a provisional patent application? What’s the easiest way to do that? Should I use the USPTO’s online form?

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2 Answers

ben's avatar

I haven’t done it in a while, but it’s definitely something you can do simply (read: without expensive lawyers) and by yourself. It’s pretty cheap (<$200 I think), and really is just about submitting a rough draft that will back-date your patent when you do submit it. I haven’t seen the USPTO’s online form (it’s probably new), but I’d bet that’s the way to go.

Keep in mind, though, that submitting will also start a 1-year clock to submit your actual patent, which will basically replace your provisional patent. If you don’t do anything within the year, it disappears. Depending on how wide you want your patent to be (US only, wordwide, etc.) that second stage (filing the actual patent) can either be very difficult or very expensive (I’d say $20k-200k).

You could probably schedule a quick call with a patent lawyer who’d give you some basic advice over the phone for free, but unless you trust them, they’d might up-sell you into spending way more than you need.

The other thing you probably want to consider carefully is if a patent even makes sense. Without the resources of a big company, it can be a huge time waster. And it’s something you can only enforce it an expensive trial. It depends on the field. For biotech, sure. For software, I wouldn’t waste your time. Better off just building the thing you want to patent.

Friendster patented the social network, but it didn’t stop Facebook.

Kayak8's avatar

@pallen123 Sounds like you figured out how to make your handheld model!

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