Under United States patent law, a provisional application for patent is a type of national application for patent filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), but which does not mature into an issued patent unless further steps are taken by the applicant.
It is a patent application with a specification, i.e. a description, and optional drawing(s) of an invention, but does not require a formal patent claims, inventors' oaths or declarations, or any information disclosure statement (IDS). Furthermore, because no examination of the patentability of the application in view of the prior art is performed, the USPTO fee for filing a provisional patent application is significantly lower than the fee required to file a standard non-provisional patent application. A provisional patent application can establish an early effective filing date in one or more continuing patent applications later claiming the priority date of an invention disclosed in earlier provisional applications by one or more of the same inventors.