Patent applications are filed by country. In the US, you have two choices. The first choice, a provisional application, gives you a foot in the door and is usually less expensive. However, it is not examined and expires after one year.
Why file a provisional application?
Provisional applications are often used if you are strapped for cash, time or both, as they only give rights for one year. However, provisional applications can’t become a patent; instead they give you a priority right (the right to a certain filing date) for everything described in the provisional application. This can be very powerful as the inventor who is first to file a patent application for a particular invention wins. Also, you have to file your patent application before you publicize your invention (countries outside the US) or within one year of publicizing your invention (the US).
How to file a provisional application
Once you prepare your drawings and text, you need to do convert the drawing and text files to pdf format (not all pdf converters will work). Next you need to prepare the provisional application cover sheet. You then upload the files at to the US Patent and Trademark Office filing site, where you also pay the necessary fees. However preparing the cover sheet, and drawing and text files, can be tricky. There are patenting agencies, like InventHelp, that can help you.
The second choice is to file a US full patent application. This application is examined and can actually become a granted patent. It can claim priority from a US provisional application.
Why file a full patent application?
Full patent applications are examined and so they can become a patent. If you want actual patent protection for your idea, then you will need to file a full patent application at some point. Also most countries outside of the US only have full patent applications.
How to file a full patent application
The process is very similar to a provisional application, except that your patent application has additional requirements, including the requirement for at least one claim. After you prepare your drawings and text, you need to convert the drawing and text files to pdf format (not all pdf converters will work). Next you need to prepare the full patent application documents, which include a cover sheet, declaration of the inventors and other documents. You then upload the files at to the US Patent and Trademark Office filing site, where you also pay the necessary fees. However preparing these documents, and drawing and text files, can be tricky. Patenting services, like InventHelp patent agency, can help you out.
The examiner at the US Patent and Trademark Office will now examine your filed patent application if you filed a US full application.
What the patent examiner does
During examination, the claims of your patent application will be reviewed for patentability.