Differences Between a Provisional and Non-Provisional Patent Application

A provisional patent application can be a valuable tool if you want to patent it yourself mainly because provisional patent applications (1) do not require a specific format, (2) do not require the complex “claims” section and (3) are not examined by the U.S. Patent Office. However, a non-provisional patent application (nonprovisional) (1) has a specific format comprised of “non-provisional patent application parts” required by the U.S. Patent Office, (2) requires the complex claims section and (3) are examined by the U.S. Patent Office.  In addition, a patent attorney is typically required to prepare a solid non-provisional patent application and to avoid potentially costly mistakes. Below is a chart that illustrates the basic differences between a provisional patent application and a non-provisional patent application.
Provisional Non-Provisional
USPTO Filing Fee Lower (See USPTO Fees) Higher (See USPTO Fees)
Suitable for Self-Drafting by Inventors? Possibly No
Specific Application Format Required? No Yes
Patent Claims Required? No Yes
Declaration Required? No Yes
Information Disclosure Statement (IDS)? No Yes
Examined by U.S. Patent Office No Yes
Second Nonprovisional Patent Application Required to be Filed in One-Year? Yes No


Whether you start with a provisional patent application or a non-provisional patent application is a decision you will have to make. If you are at the early stages of the invention process, want to save money and are willing to take some additional risk, self-drafting a provisional patent application may be a suitable option for you.  However, if you have a highly marketable and profitable product, we recommend starting with a non-provisional patent application prepared by a patent attorney. As always, consult with a qualified patent attorney prior to proceeding with a provisional patent application or a nonprovisional patent application.  You can call Neustel Law Offices at 1-701-281-8822 to speak with a U.S. Patent Attorney.