My invention is a file folder box and I am inventing the box and the file folders that go into the box. Each could be sold separately, and each can be used by itself without the other and still be helpful and beneficial to the user.

So do I need to write two provisional patents? One for the file folders? And one for the file folder box? Or can I just write one provisional patent and it covers both.

Just to be clear if this product goes to market I would be selling the two parts separately. If I just had wrote one provisional patent. Could both parts say patent pending on them?

  • An important takeaway from @SRDC's excellent answer is the low cost of filing provisional patents, and the non-necessity of engaging the services of a patent attorney at that stage. (i.e. you don't have to worry about the format or precedence in the context of previous rulings. Just make sure your description is complete and clear.) The provisional affords a type of blanket protection and a year timeframe in which you can look to shop or develop your process before undertaking the high costs of non-provisional patents.
    – DukeZhou
    Dec 30, 2016 at 19:49

2 Answers 2


For provisional patents, you can write a single one. It makes no difference, the Patent Office doesn't look at it either way.

You will want to separately claim the box & the file folders, when you file your utility application.

But yes, if the provisional patent describes both parts of your design & supports claims for both then both could have "patent pending" on them after you file your provisional application.


In a sense, the question ties into what a provisional patent application is. There is NO SUCH THING as a provisional patent. When you file a provisional patent application, you are simply depositing your specification (and you SHOULD be depositing at least SOME claims) with the patent office that HOPEFULLY thoroughly discloses your invention (and possible variations of it - even if they aren't as good, in your opinion - and variations of it applied to other fields, and ...). This only sets a filing date that establishes that you were in possession of WHAT WAS DISCLOSED as of the day you filed the application. ... and the filing date is only good if you file a 'real' (non-provisional) application WITHIN ONE YEAR. If you file it later than that, your own provisional application can bar you from a patent.

You are only supposed to submit one invention per application. Trying to bundle them together is asking for problems (for a discussion of a few of the problems, see http://www.intelproplaw.com/ip_forum/index.php?topic=20908.0), unless they are actually two aspects of a single invention. You seem to indicate they are not. However, it depends on what your INVENTION is, not your product (I might invent a new laptop screen, but my product might be the whole laptop, for example).

At the very least, if you bundle too much together, when you file the real/non-provisional application, you will have to split it out into multiple applications that all claim priority to the one provisional. This can happen in an honest situation. Trying to keep it as separate as possible, though, is usually best. Unless you're rich or a prolific inventor, the filing fee for a provisional application is about $65 - so it's typically better safe than sorry.

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