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Utility Patents FAQs

Can provisional applications be converted into full utility patent applications?

Provisional applications can be "converted" into full utility patent applications, although usually an applicant will simply file a Provisional Application and follow it with a corresponding, Non-Provisional Patent Application. This is because "conversion" negatively affects the length of patent protection received.

After filing a Provisional Application, an inventor has twelve months to file a full patent application for the underlying invention. If a corresponding Non-Provisional Patent Application is filed, it will be carefully reviewed to determine whether a patent will be granted. The Examining Attorney will also check at that time to ensure that the Provisional Application disclosed the invention's "best mode," met the "enablement" requirement and established novelty -- if these two requirements are not met in the Provisional Application, the priority filing date is lost. Also, the invention contained in the Provisional Application must be the same as that claimed in the Non-Provisional Patent Application.