Guideline for self-filing a provisional patent application


I'm looking to file a provisional patent application in Canada and the US. From what I've been told, the process is not easily out-sourceable, and I'm on a shoestring startup budget. I would like to find out how much work it is to file the application on my own.

Can anyone provide me with a step by step guideline for the process? I'd like to both judge the amount of work involved and possibly try to follow it.

Patent Canada USA Provisional Patent

asked Oct 19 '12 at 01:59
426 points
  • Can you please edit your question? Polling the community for a list of links/resources is not allowed on the Stack Exchange network. – Zuly Gonzalez 11 years ago
  • I'm confused - I'm not looking for a list, just one link; and this isn't a request for opinions, there's just one correct answer here. – Blueberryfields 11 years ago
  • Questions that are merely requesting a link to a resource are not allowed on the SE network. We ignored that rule during our early days, so you'll likely find old questions that fall under that category that are still open, but we're now following that rule. The goal of SE it to provide those answers here, not redirect people to pages that may eventually be taken down. Please see I've edited your question to remove the request for a link to keep it within the spirit of the site. – Zuly Gonzalez 11 years ago
  • A link can be provided in the answer as supporting evidence. It just can't be the only thing in the answer. – Zuly Gonzalez 11 years ago
  • Sweet! Thank you! – Blueberryfields 11 years ago

2 Answers


Go to where the process is described in plain language and instructions are easy to follow. I have done it several times and my provisional applications have been filed without problems. They are not evaluated by anyone, they are just date holders. You DO NOT need to do patent search or state your claims at this point. Once you file a real application you can use the provisional filing date as your patent filed date. What you describe in the provisional application will affect what you can claim in the actual application so keep that in mind and try not to be too broad or too narrow when describing your invention. My cost was $110 for individual entity. Have fun and good luck.

answered Jan 28 '13 at 09:03
11 points
  • Regarding the US side: while the above strategy may have been true in the past, the AIA amendments undermine this if the goal is to ultimately receive an enforceable patent. There is no silver bullet answer here. You need to do a cost-benefit analysis of preparing and filing a fully supported application vs. waiting until you have more funds to do so in the future. Post-AIA amendments, a DIY provisional could put you in a worse position than waiting. – Yorick 11 years ago


This is not something you want to cut corners on. The biggest part of filing a patent is the patent research. Your patent cannot be a duplicate of an existing patent. You really need an experienced attorney to do this for you. The sites like LegalZoom that offer this service dont do the actual research for you. A poor patent is junk. Just cause you have a patent on something, does not mean that the patent has any value. Having a firm research and file your patent will give you peace of mind knowing that if someone takes your idea you have some recourse in IP law. Still defending patents is a beast of its own. Do not think a patent will discourage or prevent anyone from taking your idea.

answered Nov 27 '12 at 20:27
2,079 points

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