To Provisional Patent Application you need a written description of your invention and a check payable to the Honorable Commissioner of Patents. When you mail this package to the Patent Office, you will be “patent pending” for one year from that date. If you wish, you can enclose a self-addressed post card, which the Patent Office will stamp and return, showing your serial number and filing date. Also, in about two months, they will send you an Official Filing Receipt.
However, you do not need to wait until you receive either of these. You are “Patent Pending” for one year from the date the Patent Office receives your application. When you mail your application to the Patent Office, I suggest that you mark your calendar for eight months down the road. During those eight months, you can market your device anywhere in the world and can make it “Patent Pending”. Do not tell them what type of application you have or the serial number or filing date of your application. If this is confusing, there are companies providing help for new inventors.
If they press you for that information, tell them that your patent attorney has advised you not to give out that information, and if they continue to press you, tell them to contact your patent lawyer.
Since there is no examination of Provisional patent applications, you can safely file one yourself and save yourself some money. All you need is a Provisional Application Cover Sheet. You will need to begin with a Provisional Patent Application (printable) Cover Sheet.
When the eight month date comes up, check on how you are doing with your invention and if you want to extend your protection beyond one year, it is necessary to consider filing Utility application, which can actually lead to a patent. I suggest the eight month date to ensure that you will have time for your patent attorney to draft an application and have you review it before you Provisional application expires.
Actually, if you wish, you can have your attorney or a patenting agency, like InventHelp, prepare the Utility Application at any time while your Provisional is in effect. Then, when your attorney tells you that the Utility application is ready for you to sign and send the Patent Office, you can hold it until, for example, the 364th day of your Provisional application and then mail the Utility application to the Patent Office by overnight mail. This will give you the maximum benefit of your Provisional application and will ensure continuity with your Utility application. As stated above, you can save money by filing the Provisional application yourself.