Provisional Patent Application Vs. Complete Patent Application

Whether you’re a first time inventor or have filed patents before, the patent process can feel overwhelming. There are many details to keep track of, including which type of patent application you should file and what information it needs to contain. The different types of applications may also seem confusing at first. Is there a difference between provisional and complete patent applications? Which one should you choose? Keep reading to learn more about these two options and how each one applies to your invention.

What is a Provisional Patent Application?

A provisional patent application is an abbreviated process where you don’t have to provide as much information as you would for a complete application. Instead, you file this application to secure a priority date to block your invention for protection. This means that even though you’re still required to pay a fee for filing, you don’t get an actual patent until you file the complete version of your application.

What is a Complete Patent Application?

A complete patent application is an application you file along with a complete specification with full details of your invention along with claims. You provide a lot of the same information as you would for a provisional application, but you also need to include a detailed description of your invention along with claims. This is usually referred to as full disclosure. The most important difference between these two applications is that you need a complete application to receive a patent. With a provisional patent, you wait until you file a complete application to get the examination process going.

A complete application also costs more than a provisional application from the drafting fee perspective.

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Differences Between Provisional and Complete Applications

A provisional patent application is cheaper than a complete patent application. You can file the former yourself without the help of a patent attorney, while you may have to work with an attorney to file a complete patent application. A complete patent application also requires more detailed disclosure of your invention. Your provisional application only includes the basics, while a complete patent application includes more details. This includes all details of the invention and claims defining the bounds of the invention you wish to protect.

Three Advantages of Filing a Provisional Application

Some important advantages of filing a provisional patent application are:

  1. Quickly blocking the invention by securing a priority date;
  2. Gaining more time to perfect the invention, and;
  3. Gaining time to test business potential and take a call on filing.

Three Advantages of Filing a Complete Application

The advantages of filing a complete application directly are:

  1. Quicker processing of your application;
  2. Same priority for all claims; and
  3. No confusion with the scope of protection and coverage.


A provisional patent application is a common way for inventors to get a head start on their patent process. It gives you a year to flesh out all the details of your invention and file a complete patent application. While a provisional patent application saves you time and money, it also has drawbacks. You don’t get any legal protection from your invention until you file a complete application, and it gets published. In fact, other people can freely use and reproduce your invention until then. A complete patent application is more complex and requires the assistance of a patent attorney. This ensures that your invention is fully protected and you don’t leave out any important details.

Disclaimer: This article  was initially generated using an AI technology, and was later updated by IP attorneys at BananaIP Counsels. The authorship of this article vests with the AI technology, and BananaIP or it’s attorneys do not take any responsibility or authorship with respect to the article. The opinions expressed in the article are those of the AI machine, and not those of attorneys of BananaIP. You are advised to take legal opinion before  taking any action based on this article. BananaIP or it’s attorneys do not endorse the authenticity or factual validity of this article, and all liability is expressly disclaimed.

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