I don't want to make my video publicly visible on YouTube for everyone, especially if you haven’t applied for Provisional Patent. But I know that I have two more options there. Besides “Public” there are two more video releasing options there in YouTube "Unlisted" and "Private".

I think "Unlisted" is a great option. You still can do screen shots (1 second increment print screens) of the video and save it as a PDF with date and URL visible. You can send a link of the “Unlisted” video to any friend or person to see it. Other than that no one can see or search to see your unlisted video in your YouTube account.Again,you still can see "Unlisted" video released date, and year in the bottom.

You actually cannot use “Private” option for that kinda Patent application because as soon as you change the “Private” for “Public” to show someone else, the data below is changing for the date that you made that change. That’s the worst nightmare. That’s not good if you want to keep the original date of the video.

What do you think about this? Is it a good idea to use "Unlisted" video, instead of "Public" video in YouTube to use as prior art in an Office action?

  • 1
    If it were me, I wouldn't disclose my invention to anyone who hasn't signed a non-disclosure agreement until after the applications are filed. I can't imagine why posting a video before file is so attractive.
    – Eric S
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 22:40
  • First of all. Time is very important. It takes time to apply for provisional patent. Its not gonna happen overnight. So, even one day could be critical as a prior art. Second, you don't know what kinda attorney you goanna dealing with and who else can work with his or her files. It s' better to be protected.
    – FiberT
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 23:35
  • I fear I can't understand this question, and particularly what your aim is. Are you suggesting you want a defensive publication, to stop others attempting to patent whatever is shown in the video? Or are you intending to apply for your own patent? In the latter case, why would you want to publish (for some definition of publish) your work before applying?
    – Maca
    Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 0:53
  • 1
    If you intend for your video to be prior art, it has to be publicly available. You can't keep it private. The best you can try for is to publish it some where public but so unpopular that few might see it.
    – Eric S
    Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 14:16
  • Unlisted video in YouTube is a video that you can share with anyone. The video has a link and you can send the link to anyone by email. The date and year are shown in the bottom like in the "Public" video. And thats what important. (To fix it in the time frame) I mean you can do this before applying for Provisional Patent. To apply for Provisional Patent can take a week or more. But every day is important. Isn't that clear?
    – FiberT
    Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 4:21

1 Answer 1


If your goal is to file a provisional patent application, describing the invention in a YouTube video does not have any positive consequences. The Patent Office does not award earlier filing dates or confer any patent rights on the basis of videos, publications, etc. The only way to receive patent rights is to file a patent application (either provisional or nonprovisional). In the U.S., there was formerly a rare process called "interference" which would arise when two people claimed the same invention in pending patent applications. In those cases, it could be helpful to have documentation of the date you conceived of the invention. However, I believe this process no longer exists under the AIA--you should confirm this with your patent counsel, and in the meantime, you can read more about it here.

However, in the U.S. (and in most systems around the world), describing your invention in a publicly accessible YouTube video will have extremely serious negative consequences. Let's start with the case of a video that is listed as "Public." As soon as you describe your invention in an electronic publication, it is now available as prior art for any patent application--even a patent application that you might file later. (To qualify as prior art, the video must have been published before the application was filed and before any "parent" application was filed.) For example, let's say I invent a new chair on Jan. 1, describe it in a publicly available YouTube video on Feb. 1, and then file my first patent application on Mar. 1. Once my patent application receives examination, the claims will be rejected in light of the YouTube video I created on Jan. 1. The fact that it's my video is inconsequential; this fact does not make my patent application immune to it.

So, to the question I think you're asking, I believe the short answer is: any video you create in attempts to exclude others from filing will also exclude you from filing.

You might be asking a separate question: "I want to share information about my invention and the best way to do that is in a video. My goal is not for the video to prevent others from filing. Rather, my goal is to distribute information in a controlled way only to select people I work with. I must prevent the information from reaching the public, as I plan to file a patent application. Can I do this in an unlisted YouTube video, or will the unlisted YouTube video become prior art which would then preclude any later-filed patent?"

I do not know enough case law to answer this question. But my suspicion is that unlisted YouTube videos would qualify as prior art for later-filed applications that do not predate the video through priority claims. There is a lot of case law involving things like conversations between friends at closed parties, websites that were accessible by link but weren't password protected, websites accessible only through a complex file system. It's a thorny field to navigate, and the advice of patent counsel in your jurisdiction is important.

Other sources you might want to read are here (start at second half of p. 3), here (section II), here, and here. Note that these relate to different countries/jurisdictions.

I am no expert, and this response is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney or legal expert to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Laws can differ dramatically from country to country, state to state, and technology field to technology field.

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