What is the difference between a provisional patent application and a non-provisional application?
A provisional patent application is a starting process to get you in the race with a patent. It’s not a patent. It is a ticket back in time for one year. You file a document that’s received, date timestamped at the patent office, and a one year clock starts clicking down. Filing that does give you the right to say “patent pending” just the same as if you file a real utility patent application, but there’s no examination of a provisional, whereas there is with a utility patent application. So really what it is is a delay in action, while in my opinion a client investigates the commercial viability of the idea to determine whether it’s worth spending the money on a utility patent application.