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As far as I know, it is illegal to advertise an invention as "patent pending" unless a patent application has actually been filed.

So, theoretically, if a company or individual wanted to file a provisional patent application (as quickly as possible and with minimum effort) only to be able to use the term "patent pending" when referencing their invention, what would be the minimum amount of work they would have to do (in the US)? I am aware that this is not considered good practice, but lets assume they will later be following up this PPA with a far more detailed PPA.

I've read that the requirements for a PPA (besides the fee) are a coversheet and a written description. Since provisional patent applications are never examined, could one theoretically only submit the required coversheet along with an attached very short (maybe paragraph-long) but accurate description of the invention when filing for a PPA? Would doing so allow the use of the term "patent pending" when referencing the invention?

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  • If your patent is obviously and to your knowledge not worth anything, using patent pending could still be seen as a violation of something.
    – DonQuiKong
    Mar 26 at 6:33
  • @DonQuiKong It does have worth - I'm just interested in being able to use the term "patent pending" when referencing my product as quickly as possible, without hiring a patent attorney. I will be applying with a far more detailed PPA later on, but for now my priority is the ability to use the term "patent pending". Because of this, I would like to know the absolute minimum theoretical requirements for a PPA.
    – Jake E
    Mar 26 at 6:48
  • What I meant was, if the patent application as filed doesn't have worth. Do you know, that a patent can't be filed after publication or public use of the product in most parts of the world? In the US you do have a year to file the patent, but won't be able to go international.
    – DonQuiKong
    Mar 26 at 16:54
  • @DonQuiKong My product has already been publicly disclosed, but I'm not necessarily aiming for an international patent - a patent in the US will be enough. At the moment, I'm simply looking to be able to use the term "patent pending" when referencing my product, and am looking to do so as quickly as possible. Do you happen to know of the minimum requirements for a PPA in the US?
    – Jake E
    Mar 26 at 20:05
  • When was your product publicly disclosed? Depending on that answer, you may have lost all ability to pursue a patent.
    – Eric S
    Mar 26 at 21:13
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In Australia all you need to file a provisional patent application is a title, an inventor name and a description of the invention. You don't even need claims. But the problem with doing that is some countries require claims to be part of a provisional patent application for the purposes of deriving priority. Thus you would be very brave to file it without any claims as it may be useless for priority reasons. - Source I am an Australian Patent Lawyer and am trained as a Patent Attorney.

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  • Thank you for your answer! Do you happen to know anything about PPAs in the US?
    – Jake E
    Mar 26 at 6:23
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    @JakeE I am not a lawyer or patent agent, but I am quite sure you don't need to include claims in a US provisional patent application.
    – Eric S
    Mar 26 at 23:21
  • @NicoleMurdoch - I would normally say the idea that claims are need in a U.S. provisional to get priority in some mythical country is flat wrong but since you are a trained, credentialed, professional, instead I ask you to name the country and point to its law.
    – George White
    Mar 29 at 19:27
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The detailed description doesn't need to be particularly detailed however I have seen a case where a filing date was retracted on a provisional application (that would remove the ability to use the patent pending marking) because the only text was headed "Summary" and there wasn't much of it.

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