How To Submit a Provisional Patent Yourself
Updated: Nov 16
A provisional patent has few formal requirements for format and can be submitted for $75 for those qualifying as 'micro entities' . If you have the time, inclination, and $75 credit you can dispense with the high-priced patent scrivener and do it yourself.
Step 0 - write your provisional draft !
A step-by-step tutorial can be found here (or here in Hebrew). TL;DR - describe your invention clearly with figures such that a skilled engineer in the relevant field can build your device (or perform your method).
Save the file as a .pdf (with fonts embedded and PDF/A-1a (ISO 19005-1) if you have those options). You should restrict yourself to Times New Roman or other common font to avoid problems down the road.
Step 1 - fill out the micro entity form:
The form (also below)
is easy to fill out - fill in your name and invention title at the top:
and put your 'e-signature'  (which is your name between forward slashes, like /John Doe/), name, date and phone. You can leave everything else blank. If there are multiple inventors, each should fill out a form like this, but all should have the same 'First Named Inventor' at the top.
Step 2 - surf to the USPTO unregistered user patent application site and fill out your name and email.
Choose 'New Application/proceeding', under that choose 'Utility', and under that choose 'Provisional', then hit the 'Continue' button.
At the next screen (below) choose 'Web-based ADS' which is easier than downloading and filling in a separate Applicant Data Sheet.
Fill in your name and address info. If you're living in Israel change 'Country of Residence' to Israel and continue .
For 'Correspondence Information' check 'An Address is being provided...'. and enter your name and address info as well as your email.
You should 'Request Not to Publish' if you have any doubts about your ability to continue to the next stages of a patent (e.g. PCT or nonprovisional). If you abandon the patent after its published you risk shooting yourself in the foot; your own published patent can be used to show 'someone already thought of this' if you try to patent the same thing later.
Under 'Representative information' you can leave it as-is since you don't need any representatives.
The next sections ('Domestic Benefit', 'Foreign Priority Information', 'Statement Under 337 CFR....' and 'Authoriztion or Opt-Out...') can all be left blank.
Since you (the inventor) are also the applicant you can skip the next section too ('Applicant Information'). If the inventor is also the person who should get rights to the patent (technically the 'Assignee') then you can also skip the next section ('Assignee Information').
The next part you'll need to fill in the the Signature.
This again can be done online with your name between forward slashes , e.g. /John Doe/.
Now upload your patent draft (from step 0) ; hit 'browse' to choose your file, upload it, and under the dropdown menu with nothing written on it (thanks, uspto) (see below) choose 'Specification', then hit the 'Upload & Validate' button.
Now do the same for the micro entity form (which we prepared in step 1). Hit 'Browse...' to upload it, then choose 'Certification of micro entity (gross income basis)' this time in the rightmost dropdown men, then hit 'Upload & Validate' again.
Once you've uploaded the draft and micro-entity files (if you wrote your application data sheet separately then upload that here too, choosing 'Application Data Sheet' in the rightmost dropdown) hit 'Continue'.
Now you'll see a fee worksheet. Choose 'Micro Entity' at the top, and tick the 'Provisional' box a few lines below it.
Fill in the number of pages ,then click 'Calculate'. You should see '75' under 'Total Fees Due:$' which is pretty cheap all things considered. Hit 'Continue' to reach the a payment page. You can pay immediately by credit card or do it later, but this may cost extra.
If you chose to pay immediately (by hitting 'YES! I want to pay now') you'll see the following page; hit 'Pay with the New USPTO Payment System'.
In the next screen choose 'Pay as a guest'.
Now fill in your credit card details and submit.
Make sure to save the electronic receipt on the next page - this has your application number on it and you'll need to refer to that in subsequent stages. Now would be a good time to remind your future self about today's date one year from now on a calendar (e.g. google calendar lets you send reminder emails) . One year is the deadline for submission to the next stage (PCT or nonprovisional). If you don't submit anything by then your application is abandoned and you'll have to start over, $75 poorer.
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 A micro entity has less than 500 employees, is not be named on more than four previously filed applications, and does not have a gross income more than $206,000 (three times the median household income in the previous year from when the fee(s) is paid)
 The e-signature must be composed only of letters and/or numbers between two forward slashes (/…/), including punctuation marks, spaces and titles. http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/dapp/opla/preognotice/2003nprtext.htm
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