I'm working on getting a SaaS start-up off the ground. Right now I'm focusing on building a "launch-able" prototype to help me in conversations with potential partners and investors.
Some of the ideas behind my product are very unique and no one else is doing anything like it. I can't afford to file patents since I'm doing this with zero money so far (just day job), so I'm thinking about filing provisional patents instead to buy me some time. The provisional patent is just $200.
What's the best way to go about it? How do I make sure that the language I'm using will cover me enough in case someone decides to "invent" the same thing in the next 12 months?
If you are out of options, I would suggest hiring a law school grad. Plenty of them are looking for work according to AbovetheLaw Blog (have you seen their craigslist postings?).
Find one with some patent experience to help. Alternatively, look for a nearby university with a law school to see if they provide any discount drafting programs for faculty/students. If you're good friends with one, s/he might help you out.
You're going to be relying on prior art to draft your patent, so you can use those as a reference for the kind of descriptions you will need for protection. Google.com/patents is your friend (or you can use the USPTO site directly to analyze prior art). Since you are filing a PP, you won't need to draft the claims section (with all the legal jargon) for the time being.
Of course, before you proceed with a patent, make sure the idea is patentable. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/patent-law