I am still asked by some of my new clients if mailing a letter to themselves containing information about their patent is still a valid form of protection. The simple answer is that it is no longer valid as we have a first-to-file system with the patent office and not a first-to-invent system. The patent office now provides what’s called a provisional patent application where you put all the information regarding your invention in written and figurative form and forwarded to the patent office for recordation. The patent office gives you an application serial number and a filing date, which can be considered the date of your invention. However, a provisional patent application is not an actual application, but a reservation of rights, which must be perfected. To perfect within one year of your filing date, you must file a non-provisional patent application, namely a regular utility patent application, protecting your invention as described in the provisional patent application. Ideally, the patent application gives you a one year time period to modify and refine your idea while at the same time protecting your core idea. If you have more questions, we suggest consulting with an experienced intellectual property attorney.