Yes – inventors seeking to apply for a provisional patent need not be U.S. citizens. In fact, between 1975 and 2014, 28% of all patents granted derived from foreign countries. There are some important things to point out regarding a foreign applicant:
- The inventor is typically required to sign the oath or declaration for U.S. patent applications, unlike some foreign countries.
- If the application is a foreign application made through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the U.S. filing date would be the filing date of the PCT application or U.S. application, whichever is sooner. For example, an Austrian application was filed February 1, 2009, the PCT application was filed September 1, 2010, and the U.S. application was ultimately filed on December 1, 2011. The U.S. filing date would be September 1, 2010.
- Some countries, like China, require inventors to obtain a foreign filing license for all inventions completed in their country before inventors may seek patent protection in foreign countries.
- If the provisional patent application fails to describe all that is claimed in the eventual non-provisional application then the material added in the non-provisional may not rely on the provisional filing date.
- Foreign applicants may be represented by any patent attorney licensed to practice before the USPTO.
- Applying for a provisional patent application in the U.S. can be done by mail, or electronically.