MPEP 201.04
Provisional Application

This is the Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 07.2015, Last Revised in November 2015

Previous: §201.03 | Next: §201.05

201.04    Provisional Application [R-07.2015]

I. PROVISIONAL APPLICATION FILED ON OR AFTER DECEMBER 18, 2013

35 U.S.C. 111   Application.

[Editor Note: Applicable to any patent application filed on or after December 18, 2013. See 35 U.S.C. 111 (pre-PLT) for the law applicable to provisional applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(b) before December 18, 2013.]

*****

  • (b) PROVISIONAL APPLICATION.—
    • (1) AUTHORIZATION.—A provisional application for patent shall be made or authorized to be made by the inventor, except as otherwise provided in this title, in writing to the Director. Such application shall include—
    • (2) CLAIM.—A claim, as required by subsections (b) through (e) of section 112, shall not be required in a provisional application.
    • (3) FEE.—The application shall be accompanied by the fee required by law. The fee may be submitted after the filing date of the application, within such period and under such conditions, including the payment of a surcharge, as may be prescribed by the Director. Upon failure to submit the fee within such prescribed period, the application shall be regarded as abandoned.
    • (4) FILING DATE.—The filing date of a provisional application shall be the date on which a specification, with or without claims, is received in the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
    • (5) ABANDONMENT.—Notwithstanding the absence of a claim, upon timely request and as prescribed by the Director, a provisional application may be treated as an application filed under subsection (a). Subject to section 119(e)(3), if no such request is made, the provisional application shall be regarded as abandoned 12 months after the filing date of such application and shall not be subject to revival after such 12-month period.
    • (6) OTHER BASIS FOR PROVISIONAL APPLICATION.—Subject to all the conditions in this subsection and section 119(e), and as prescribed by the Director, an application for patent filed under subsection (a) may be treated as a provisional application for patent.
    • (7) NO RIGHT OF PRIORITY OR BENEFIT OF EARLIEST FILING DATE.—A provisional application shall not be entitled to the right of priority of any other application under section 119, 365(a), or 386(a) or to the benefit of an earlier filing date in the United States under section 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c).
    • (8) APPLICABLE PROVISIONS.—The provisions of this title relating to applications for patent shall apply to provisional applications for patent, except as otherwise provided, and except that provisional applications for patent shall not be subject to sections 131 and 135.

37 C.F.R. 1.9 Definitions.

  • (a)
    • *****
    • (2) A provisional application as used in this chapter means a U.S. national application for patent filed in the Office under 35 U.S.C. 111(b).

*****

37 C.F.R. 1.53 Application number, filing date, and completion of application.

[Editor Note: Applicable to patent applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111 on or after December 18, 2013.]

*****

  • (c) Application filing requirements — Provisional application. The filing date of a provisional application is the date on which a specification, with or without claims, is received in the Office. No amendment, other than to make the provisional application comply with the patent statute and all applicable regulations, may be made to the provisional application after the filing date of the provisional application.
    • (1) A provisional application must also include the cover sheet required by § 1.51(c)(1), which may be an application data sheet (§ 1.76 ), or a cover letter identifying the application as a provisional application. Otherwise, the application will be treated as an application filed under paragraph (b) of this section.
    • (2) An application for patent filed under paragraph (b) of this section may be converted to a provisional application and be accorded the original filing date of the application filed under paragraph (b) of this section. The grant of such a request for conversion will not entitle applicant to a refund of the fees that were properly paid in the application filed under paragraph (b) of this section. Such a request for conversion must be accompanied by the processing fee set forth in § 1.17(q) and be filed prior to the earliest of:
      • (i) Abandonment of the application filed under paragraph (b) of this section;
      • (ii) Payment of the issue fee on the application filed under paragraph (b) of this section; or
      • (iii) Expiration of twelve months after the filing date of the application filed under paragraph (b) of this section.
    • (3) A provisional application filed under paragraph (c) of this section may be converted to a nonprovisional application filed under paragraph (b) of this section and accorded the original filing date of the provisional application. The conversion of a provisional application to a nonprovisional application will not result in either the refund of any fee properly paid in the provisional application or the application of any such fee to the filing fee, or any other fee, for the nonprovisional application. Conversion of a provisional application to a nonprovisional application under this paragraph will result in the term of any patent to issue from the application being measured from at least the filing date of the provisional application for which conversion is requested. Thus, applicants should consider avoiding this adverse patent term impact by filing a nonprovisional application claiming the benefit of the provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), rather than converting the provisional application into a nonprovisional application pursuant to this paragraph. A request to convert a provisional application to a nonprovisional application must be accompanied by the fee set forth in § 1.17(i) and an amendment including at least one claim as prescribed by 35 U.S.C. 112(b), unless the provisional application under paragraph (c) of this section otherwise contains at least one claim as prescribed by 35 U.S.C. 112(b). The nonprovisional application resulting from conversion of a provisional application must also include the filing fee, search fee, and examination fee for a nonprovisional application, and the surcharge required by § 1.16(f) if either the basic filing fee for a nonprovisional application or the inventor's oath or declaration was not present on the filing date accorded the resulting nonprovisional application (i.e., the filing date of the original provisional application). A request to convert a provisional application to a nonprovisional application must also be filed prior to the earliest of:
      • (i) Abandonment of the provisional application filed under paragraph (c) of this section; or
      • (ii) Expiration of twelve months after the filing date of the provisional application filed under paragraph (c) of this section.
    • (4) A provisional application is not entitled to the right of priority under 35 U.S.C. 119, 365(a), or 386(a) or § 1.55, or to the benefit of an earlier filing date under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c) or § 1.78 of any other application. No claim for priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or § 1.78(a) may be made in a design application based on a provisional application. The requirements of §§ 1.821 through 1.825 regarding application disclosures containing nucleotide and/or amino acid sequences are not mandatory for provisional applications.

Effective December 18, 2013, the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012 (PLTIA), title II, amended 35 U.S.C. 111(b) to more closely align the corresponding provisions for nonprovisional applications in 35 U.S.C. 111(a) and provisional applications in 35 U.S.C. 111(b). The corresponding provision in 37 CFR 1.53(c) was revised accordingly.

The parts of a provisional application that are required are set forth in 37 CFR 1.51(c) and MPEP § 601.01(b). The filing date of a provisional application filed on or after December 18, 2013, is the date on which a specification as prescribed by 35 U.S.C. 112(a), with or without claims, is filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Although the application will be accorded a filing date regardless of whether any drawings are submitted, applicants are advised to file any drawing required by 37 CFR 1.81(a) with the application. No amendment, other than to make the provisional application comply with the patent statute and all applicable regulations, may be made to the provisional application after the filing date of the provisional application.

A provisional application must include a cover sheet required by 37 CFR 1.51(c)(1), which may be an application data sheet (37 CFR 1.76 ), or a cover letter identifying the application as a provisional application. Otherwise, the application will be treated as an application filed under 37 CFR 1.53(b). The filing fee is set forth in 37 CFR 1.16(d).

II. PROVISIONAL APPLICATION FILED BEFORE DECEMBER 18, 2013

35 U.S.C. 111   Application (pre-PLT)

[Editor Note: 35 U.S.C. 111(b) as reproduced herein is applicable to any patent application filed before December 18, 2013. See 35 U.S.C. 111 for the law applicable to provisional applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(b) on or after December 18, 2013.]

*****

  • (b) PROVISIONAL APPLICATION.—
    • (1) AUTHORIZATION.—A provisional application for patent shall be made or authorized to be made by the inventor, except as otherwise provided in this title, in writing to the Director. Such application shall include—
      • (A) a specification as prescribed by section 112; and
      • (B) a drawing as prescribed by section 113.
    • (2) CLAIM.—A claim, as required by subsections (b) through (e) of section 112, shall not be required in a provisional application.
    • (3) FEE.—
      • (A) The application must be accompanied by the fee required by law.
      • (B) The fee may be submitted after the specification and any required drawing are submitted, within such period and under such conditions, including the payment of a surcharge, as may be prescribed by the Director.
      • (C) Upon failure to submit the fee within such prescribed period, the application shall be regarded as abandoned, unless it is shown to the satisfaction of the Director that the delay in submitting the fee was unavoidable or unintentional.
    • (4) FILING DATE.—The filing date of a provisional application shall be the date on which the specification and any required drawing are received in the Patent and Trademark Office.
    • (5) ABANDONMENT.—Notwithstanding the absence of a claim, upon timely request and as prescribed by the Director, a provisional application may be treated as an application filed under subsection (a). Subject to section 119(e)(3), if no such request is made, the provisional application shall be regarded as abandoned 12 months after the filing date of such application and shall not be subject to revival after such 12-month period.
    • (6) OTHER BASIS FOR PROVISIONAL APPLICATION.—Subject to all the conditions in this subsection and section 119(e), and as prescribed by the Director, an application for patent filed under subsection (a) may be treated as a provisional application for patent.
    • (7) NO RIGHT OF PRIORITY OR BENEFIT OF EARLIEST FILING DATE.—A provisional application shall not be entitled to the right of priority of any other application under section 119 or 365(a) or to the benefit of an earlier filing date in the United States under section 120, 121, or 365(c).
    • (8) APPLICABLE PROVISIONS.—The provisions of this title relating to applications for patent shall apply to provisional applications for patent, except as otherwise provided, and except that provisional applications for patent shall not be subject to sections 131 and 135.

*****

37 C.F.R. 1.9 Definitions.

  • (a)
    • *****
    • (2) A provisional application as used in this chapter means a U.S. national application for patent filed in the Office under 35 U.S.C. 111(b).

*****

37 C.F.R. 1.53 (pre-PLT) Application number, filing date, and completion of application.

[Editor Note: Applicable to patent applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111 before December 18, 2013.]

*****

  • (c) Application filing requirements—Provisional application. The filing date of a provisional application is the date on which a specification as prescribed by 35 U.S.C. 112(a), and any drawing required by § 1.81(a) are filed in the Patent and Trademark Office. No amendment, other than to make the provisional application comply with the patent statute and all applicable regulations, may be made to the provisional application after the filing date of the provisional application.
    • (1) A provisional application must also include the cover sheet required by § 1.51(c)(1), which may be an application data sheet (§ 1.76 ), or a cover letter identifying the application as a provisional application. Otherwise, the application will be treated as an application filed under paragraph (b) of this section.
    • (2) An application for patent filed under paragraph (b) of this section may be converted to a provisional application and be accorded the original filing date of the application filed under paragraph (b) of this section. The grant of such a request for conversion will not entitle applicant to a refund of the fees that were properly paid in the application filed under paragraph (b) of this section. Such a request for conversion must be accompanied by the processing fee set forth in § 1.17(q) and be filed prior to the earliest of:
      • (i) Abandonment of the application filed under paragraph (b) of this section;
      • (ii) Payment of the issue fee on the application filed under paragraph (b) of this section; or
      • (iii) Expiration of twelve months after the filing date of the application filed under paragraph (b) of this section.
    • (3) A provisional application filed under paragraph (c) of this section may be converted to a nonprovisional application filed under paragraph (b) of this section and accorded the original filing date of the provisional application. The conversion of a provisional application to a nonprovisional application will not result in either the refund of any fee properly paid in the provisional application or the application of any such fee to the filing fee, or any other fee, for the nonprovisional application. Conversion of a provisional application to a nonprovisional application under this paragraph will result in the term of any patent to issue from the application being measured from at least the filing date of the provisional application for which conversion is requested. Thus, applicants should consider avoiding this adverse patent term impact by filing a nonprovisional application claiming the benefit of the provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) (rather than converting the provisional application into a nonprovisional application pursuant to this paragraph). A request to convert a provisional application to a nonprovisional application must be accompanied by the fee set forth in § 1.17(i) and an amendment including at least one claim as prescribed by 35 U.S.C. 112(b), unless the provisional application under paragraph (c) of this section otherwise contains at least one claim as prescribed by 35 U.S.C. 112(b). The nonprovisional application resulting from conversion of a provisional application must also include the filing fee, search fee, and examination fee for a nonprovisional application, the inventor’s oath or declaration, and the surcharge required by § 1.16(f) if either the basic filing fee for a nonprovisional application or the inventor's oath or declaration was not present on the filing date accorded the resulting nonprovisional application ( i.e., the filing date of the original provisional application). A request to convert a provisional application to a nonprovisional application must also be filed prior to the earliest of:
      • (i) Abandonment of the provisional application filed under paragraph (c) of this section; or
      • (ii) Expiration of twelve months after the filing date of the provisional application filed under paragraph (c) of this section.
    • (4) A provisional application is not entitled to the right of priority under 35 U.S.C. 119 or 35 U.S.C. 365(a) or § 1.55, or to the benefit of an earlier filing date under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c) or § 1.78(a) of any other application. No claim for priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or § 1.78(a)(4) may be made in a design application based on a provisional application. No request under § 1.293 for a statutory invention registration may be filed in a provisional application. The requirements of §§ 1.821 through 1.825 regarding application disclosures containing nucleotide and/or amino acid sequences are not mandatory for provisional applications.

*****

The parts of a provisional application that are required are set forth in 37 CFR 1.51(c) and MPEP § 601.01(b). The filing date of a provisional application is the date on which a specification as prescribed by 35 U.S.C. 112(a) and any drawing required by 37 CFR 1.81(a) are filed in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. No amendment, other than to make the provisional application comply with the patent statute and all applicable regulations, may be made to the provisional application after the filing date of the provisional application.

A provisional application must also include the cover sheet required by 37 CFR 1.51(c)(1), which may be an application data sheet (37 CFR 1.76 ), or a cover letter identifying the application as a provisional application. Otherwise, the application will be treated as an application filed under 37 CFR 1.53(b). The filing fee is set forth in 37 CFR 1.16(d).

III. PROVISIONAL APPLICATION - IN GENERAL

One of the provisions of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (effective as of June 8, 1995), is the establishment of a domestic priority system. The Act provides a mechanism to enable domestic applicants to quickly and inexpensively file provisional applications. Under the provisions of 35 U.S.C. 119(e), applicants are entitled to claim the benefit of priority in a given application in the United States. The domestic priority period will not count in the measurement of the 20-year patent term. See 35 U.S.C. 154(a)(3). Thus, domestic applicants are placed on equal footing with foreign applicants with respect to the patent term.

A provisional application is a regular national filing that starts the Paris Convention priority year. Foreign filings must be made within 12 months of the filing date of the provisional application if applicant wishes to rely on the filing date of the provisional application in the foreign filed application.

NOTE:

  • (A) No claim is required in a provisional application.
  • (B) No oath or declaration is required in a provisional application.
  • (C) Provisional applications will not be examined for patentability.
  • (D) A provisional application is not entitled to claim priority to any foreign application or the benefit of any earlier filed national application.

A provisional application will automatically be abandoned 12 months after its filing date and will not be subject to revival to restore it to pending status thereafter. See 35 U.S.C. 111(b)(5). The period of pendency of a provisional application is extended to the next succeeding business day if the day that is 12 months after the filing date of a provisional application falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday within the District of Columbia. See 35 U.S.C. 119(e)(3) and 37 CFR 1.7(b). For example, if a provisional application was filed on January 15, 1999, the last day of pendency of the provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 111(b)(5) and 35 U.S.C. 119(e)(3) is extended to January 18, 2000 (January 15, 2000 is a Saturday and Monday, January 17, 2000 is a federal holiday and therefore, the next succeeding business day is Tuesday, January 18, 2000). A nonprovisional application claiming the benefit of the provisional application must be filed no later than January 18, 2000.

Effective December 18, 2013, a nonprovisional application that was filed more than 12 months after the filing date of the provisional application, but within 14 months after the filing date of the provisional application, may have the benefit of the provisional application restored by filing a grantable petition to restore the benefit under 37 CFR 1.78(b). See MPEP § 211.01(a).

A provisional application is not entitled to claim priority benefits based on any other application under 35 U.S.C. 119, 120, 121, 365, or 386. If applicant attempts to claim the benefit of an earlier U.S. or foreign application in a provisional application, the filing receipt will not reflect the improper benefit or priority claim. Moreover, if a nonprovisional application claims the benefit of the filing date of a provisional application, and states that the provisional application relies upon the filing date of an earlier application, the claim for benefit or priority earlier than the filing date of the provisional application will be disregarded.

An application filed under 37 CFR 1.53(b) may be converted to a provisional application provided a request for conversion is submitted along with the fee as set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(q). The request and fee must be submitted in the nonprovisional application prior to the earlier of the abandonment of the nonprovisional application, the payment of the issue fee, or the expiration of 12 months after the filing date of the nonprovisional application. The grant of any such request will not entitle applicant to a refund of the fees which were properly paid in the application filed under 37 CFR 1.53(b). See MPEP § 601.01(c). 35 U.S.C. 111(b)(5) permits a provisional application filed under 37 CFR 1.53(c) to be converted to a nonprovisional application filed under 37 CFR 1.53(b). A request to convert a provisional application to a nonprovisional application must be accompanied by the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(i) and an amendment including at least one claim as prescribed by 35 U.S.C. 112, unless the provisional application otherwise contains at least one such claim. The request must be filed in the provisional application prior to the earliest of the abandonment of the provisional application or the expiration of twelve months after the filing date of the provisional application. The filing fee, search fee, and examination fee for a nonprovisional application and the surcharge under 37 CFR 1.16(f), if appropriate, are also required. For provisional applications filed before December 18, 2013, if the inventor's oath or declaration was not filed with the provisional application, it must be submitted with the request for conversion. The grant of any such request will not entitle applicant to a refund of the fees which were properly paid in the application filed under 37 CFR 1.53(c). Conversion of a provisional application to a nonprovisional application will result in the term of any patent issuing from the application being measured from at least the filing date of the provisional application. This adverse patent term impact can be avoided by filing a nonprovisional application claiming the benefit of the provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), rather than requesting conversion of the provisional application to a nonprovisional application. See 37 CFR 1.53(c)(3).

Design applications may not make a claim for priority of a provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e). See 35 U.S.C. 172 and 37 CFR 1.78(a).

Form PTO/SB/16. Provisional Application for Patent Cover Sheet page 1 of 2
Form PTO/SB/16. Provisional Application for Patent Cover Sheet page 2 of 2
Privacy Act Statement