Another pre-filing consideration is whether to file a provisional application or a non-provisional application. Provisional applications are a relatively new feature to U.S. patent law.

The original intention of non-provisional applications was to allow a patentee to file a specification without claims and still receive a filing date. Provisional applications would serve as placeholders until an applicant could develop a full set of carefully considered claims.

Many applicants have taken advantage of the fact that provisional applications are not examined to file glorified invention disclosures.