A provisional patent application is normally filed to establish an early filing date. The applicant has to file a regular non-provisional patent application within one year of the filing of a provisional application to obtain the benefit of the provisional filing date. A provisional application does not require formal patent claims or any information disclosure statements. A proper description and drawings of the invention are sufficient since no examination of the application is performed. The fee required to file a provisional application is significantly lower than that of a non-provisional patent application.
A provisional patent application is beneficial when there is insufficient time to generate a complete non-provisional application or if the invention is still at a testing stage .The application need not be in English, but a translation is required when a non-provisional application claims the benefit of the provisional application. A provisional application is also not published and expires one year after it is filed. The provisional filing date is not counted as part of the 20 year life of any patent that may issue with a claim to the same. The ability to use “patent pending” status after filing a provisional application provides significant marketing advantages. Provisional applications for patent cannot be filed for design inventions.