How to File a PPA (Provisional Patent Application) in the UK


As the first step towards getting a patent, a provisional patent application is very important for inventors and entrepreneurs. So, it’s best to file a PPA as soon as you can, so that all of your hard work remains protected. Here’s how you can file for one in the UK:

Step One – Make sure your idea is original

So, you’ve come up with an unbelievable product and are expecting to become a gazillionaire on the basis of your bright ideas very soon. But be warned: someone may well have come up with the very same idea before you. Thanks to the likes of Dragon’s Den, everyone is a wannabe inventor nowadays!

That’s why you’ll have to do some research to make sure that your product is unique. You can use Espacenet to search for patents worldwide and find out information on the owners of the patent, the files that have been documented and where the patent applies.

Step Two – Prepare your application

This will be the lengthiest and most difficult step of filing for a PPA. This is because you’ll have to collate all of your information, evidence and ideas at this point. There are four elements you’ll need for the application.

The first is a detailed description of your product or invention. There needs to be enough information here so that the reader knows exactly how it works, as well as how the product can be made. The next thing you’ll need is an illustration of said product that can be pointed to in the description. If the drawings are labelled well enough, it will make the description part a whole lot easier.

You’ll also be required to submit legal statements that clearly point to the features of your invention that are to be protected under the patent, which are known as ’claims’. Then there’s the ‘abstract’ which acts as a summary of the key technical elements of your invention. This guide from the Intellectual Property Office explains exactly how to complete each part of the application.

Step Three – File your application

Your PPA application should be filed with the Intellectual Property Office. There’s a fee involved for each part of the process which amounts to a total of £230 if you apply online and £280 if you do it by post. At this point, you can also request a ’substantive examination’ during which the IPO will do their checks regarding whether your patent is new and unique. This can also be completed at a later stage, but you might as well get it out of the way.

Step Four – Receive your results

The application you’ve made should be published 18 months after your PPA has been filed. The substantive examination may not be carried out straightaway; it can happen years after you have filed the PPA. You’ll have the opportunity to respond to the results.

You’ll receive a receipt from the IPO after filing a PPA. At this point, you can mark your invention as ’patent pending’. From then on, you’ll receive correspondence concerning what to do next and when to do it.

The process shouldn’t be too difficult as long as you do what you need to do, when you need to do it, because your application might be terminated if you don’t make your payments on time or if you don’t submit the correct documents along with your application.

Have you ever filed a PPA? Let us know in the comments section below!