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The US Patent Office offers a service to inventors called the Disclosure Document Program. It will help establish and maintain evidence of your rights as first inventor.
Under this program, the documents will be kept in confidence and without publication for two years. The disclosure document has to be formatted according to USPTO standards outlined on their web site and should include a complete description including a drawing. It should be accompanied by a letter requesting that the document be protected under the Disclosure Document Program, and signed by the inventor.
This two year period is neither a grace period, nor should it replace keeping a daily log of your invention and its progress.