“Invention, invention all around but no sense of getting patent.”

The words quoted in the above sentence are not the improved form of “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink” that Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote in one of his longest poems named, “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.”

Instead, they describe the poor state of those inventors (may be the next Thomas Edison) who have created their new inventions but are clueless about the ways on how to apply for a provisional and non-provisional patent application.

Well, there is a lot of literature available in the World Wide Web that can help you draft a patent application, but the points that I am going to bring forth to you through this article will surely make you say ‘Wow’ and make the patent application drafting process easier than enough.

But, before you learn about them, please understand the biggest difference between the two types of patent applications.

A provisional patent application dies right after 12 months from the date of its filing, whilst a non-provisional patent application rises exactly after it and can eventually be turned into an issued patent with a patent number if the patent examiner agrees onto your claims and if an “issue fee” is paid.

Now let’s talk about the types of patent applications;


  • A Provisional Patent Application is a confidential USPTO documents, which cannot be made available to the public (until a subsequent non-provisional application is publicly disclosed).
  • A non-provisional application is confidential USPTO documents, which cannot be made public unless published and/or issued as a patent.
  • A foreign-country application must be filed within a year of the first filing date, irrespective of whether provisional or non-provisional.
  • Neither has value if the subject doesn’t match patentability standards (new and non-obvious in comparison to what is known).
  • A provisional patent application is not the customary (much less needed) first step in looking for patent protection.
  • Customarily, first step in desiring patent protection is to conduct a patent search, and then a non-provisional patent application.
  • A provisional patent application must be converted to (re-filed as) non-provisional within a year of their filing dates.
  • The one-year conversion-to-non-provisional requirement strictly applied without exceptions or extensions
  • A non-provisional is in line for the required USPTO examination, while a provisional patent application is not.
  • Both need to be described accurately and adequately to enable someone to practice the invention.
  • A provisional patent application cannot be converted into (re-filed as) design patent applications.
  • A provisional patent application does not speed up the things rather slows down its pace.
  • Including a provisional to the patent application process increases overall costs.
  • A provisional patent application does not undergo USPTO examination.
  • Patents are issued off non-provisional (after USPTO examination).
  • USPTO examination delays do not cause for provisional filing.
  • USPTO fees due on filing less for provisional.
  • Both provide patent-pending status instantly.
  • Informal drawings accepted for provisional.
  • Both are applications; neither is a patent.
  • No patents are issued off provisional.

Do not file for a provisional patent application unless there is seriously a need to delay the costs of a non-provisional patent application.