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Provisional vs. Non-provisional Patent Applications Comparison Chart

  Provisional Application Non-Provisional Applicatoin Effects
       
Cost X   Provisional applications cost less to file than non-provisional applications
       
Duration   X Provisional applications last for only one year and then automatically expire. Non-provisional applications do not expire and last as long as the application is not abandoned.
       
Ease of Filing X   The provisional patent do not require specific claims, sworn oaths/declarations, or the disclosure of prior references. Non-provisional applications require these elements.
       
Filing Date X   The filing date of a provisional application may be used as an earlier reference point for determining whether the prior art anticipated the invention. Prior art references that disclose the invention after the filing of the provisional application but before the filing of the non-provisional application do not count against the non-provisional application. The provisional application also serves as a prior art reference for any related applications filed between the provisional and non-provisional applications.
Patentability   X Only non-provisional applications are reviewed by the PTO. A provisional application must be  converted to a non-provisional application or a non-provisional application claiming the benefit of the provisional application must be filed in order to initiate review by the PTO. A patent can never be granted solely on the basis of a provisional application.
       
Priority X   The filing date of a provisional application may be used in a contest with another inventor over priority of invention as evidence that the inventor was the first to invent.

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