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Provisional Patent Specification FAQs

provisional patent specification



What is a provisional specification of a patent?

A provisional patent specification is the written description of an invention filed in a provisional patent application. The written description must provide support for the claims and must enable one skilled in the art to make and use the invention.

How do you write a provisional patent description?

When writing a provisional patent description, you must comply with the rules of 35 USC 112. These rules require the written description to support each element and limitation in the claims. Furthermore, you must provide enough detail so a person skilled in the art can make and use the invention.

Provisional applications do not require claims. However, you must still provide enough detail to support the future claims. Failing to do so will result in a requirement that you amend your description to include the missing details. Adding this missing detail constitutes adding new matter, which is not allowed, so you will have to file a new application (or continuation-in-part) and lose your provisional filing date.

How long does it take to write a provisional patent?

A provisional patent has the same disclosure requirements as a utility patent, with the exception of claims. Thus, writing a provisional patent takes essentially as long as writing a nonprovisional patent. The average time for this process is 30 days, accounting for several drafts to be written and reviewed, as well as acquisition of professional drawings.

How do you write a patent specification?

The USPTO provides detailed information on the various sections of a patent specification. These include:

  1. Field of the invention
  2. Background of the invention
  3. Brief summary of the invention
  4. Brief description of the drawings
  5. Detailed description
  6. Abstract
  7. Claims
  8. Drawings

What are the drawing requirements for a provisional patent application?

Provisional patent applications have the same drawing requirements as nonprovisional applications. The USPTO requires drawings to be submitted when drawings are required to understand the invention. Almost all inventions require drawings. Drawings must be line drawings in black-and-white only, unless an exception applies. Furthermore, you must include as many views and angles as necessary to understand the invention.

How detailed does a provisional patent need to be?

A provisional patent requires enough detail to enable one skilled in the art to make and use the invention. Furthermore, it must include enough detail to support every element and limitation that will be included in the future claims.

Do you need a prototype for a provisional patent?

No patent application, including provisional applications, requires a prototype. Samples of new biological specimens may be required in nonprovisional applications.

Can you use pictures instead of drawings for a provisional patent?

No. Unless your invention meets an exception that allows for pictures to be used, you cannot use pictures as drawings in a provisional. If you do, your pictures will not be entered because they do not comply with submission rules. When you try to add new drawings in a nonprovisional, the new drawings will be considered new matter and you will lose your provisional filing date.


Attorney Collier started his own law firm straight out of law school and has been practicing law in Ohio for 5+ years. During that time, Joe focused on business law and litigation, gaining some exposure to intellectual property law. While running his firm in 2021, Joe decided to go back to school and get his patent license. Since then, Attorney Collier has been focusing on protecting innovators and entrepreneurs through his expertise in intellectual property and business law.

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