A non-provisional patent application (also known as a non-provisional utility patent application) is the traditional patent application that protects how an inventor’s invention works or is made.
Similar to a provisional patent application, once an inventor or a patent attorney files a non-provisional patent application, an inventor may mark his or her product as patent pending. Additionally, the official process to obtain a patent begins upon filing a non-provisional patent application.
A non-provisional patent application is a formal patent application that includes a background, summary of your invention, detailed description of your invention to enable others to use your invention, claims, formal figures, and other formalities. In certain instances, the non-provisional patent application may be substantially the same as a filed provisional patent application, but includes an updated description, depicting any improvements made within the year, in addition to formal drawings.
Upon filing and obtaining a patent, the claims are the most important portion of an inventor’s application because they form the basis of what your patent will protect. For example, when a company or inventor sues someone for patent infringement, courts will determine the scope of the patented claims in the patent and see if each element of each claim is found in the infringing device. If each element is met, that device likely infringes the patent. Because claims define what protections the patent is entitled to, potential manufacturers or licensees generally prefer to see a non-provisional application pending rather than a provisional application. Because patent claims are required to be presented in a specific format, it is beneficial to hire an experienced patent attorney to draft patent claims.
If an inventor has claimed and obtained a patent for the novel features of their invention, a non-provisional patent application may be used as a tool to generate interest in his or her invention from potential manufacturers or licensees. When compared to filing an additional provisional patent application, filing a non-provisional patent application at the onset generally results in a patent application process that is less expensive overall because a provisional patent application will not be necessary.
A non-provisional patent application will be published 18 months after it was filed. Typically, an examination process will begin within 30 months of filing (due to a backlog at the USPTO).
In summary, non-provisional patent applications may be conversions of provisional patent applications that are formalized to meet the requirements of the USPTO, have claims that define the patent protection entitled for your patent, and the filing of a non-provisional patent application officially begins the patent process with the USPTO.