The vocabulary with patents and patent searching is unique. The following terms will help you to understand the terminology associated with the patent process. For a complete list of terms and definitions visit the USPTO - Glossary,
• A provisional application for patent is a U. S. national application for patent filed in the USPTO under 35 U.S.C. § 111(b) . It allows filing without a formal patent claim, oath or declaration, or any information disclosure (prior art) statement. It provides the means to establish an early effective filing date in a later-filed non-provisional patent application filed under 35 U.S.C. § 111(a). It also allows the term "Patent Pending" to be applied in connection with the description of the invention.
Provisional application for patent (provisional application) has a pendency lasting 12 months from the date the provisional application is filed.
The 12-month pendency period cannot be extended. Therefore, an applicant who files a provisional application must file a corresponding non-provisional application for patent (non-provisional application) during the 12-month pendency period of the provisional application in order to benefit from the earlier filing of the provisional application.
In accordance with 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) , the corresponding non-provisional application must contain or be amended to contain a specific reference to the provisional application within the time period and in the manner required by 37 CFR 1.78.
• The Nonprovisional Application establishes the filing date and initiates the examination process. A nonprovisional utility patent application must include a specification, including a claim or claims; drawings, when necessary; an oath or declaration; and the prescribed filing fee.