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I am filing a provisional application for a device that that can be use to improve the operation and performance of a very common item. The device can be designed to be integrated into the design of the item (i.e., a manufacture could produce items that have the device as a built-in feature) or designed to be added onto an instance of the item not originally designed to utilize the feature. Imagine a special handle that makes it easy to carry a box and a box with that special handle designed right into the box. (For clarity, my invention has nothing to do with boxes... it's just an analogy. ;) In the provisional application, I describe embodiments of both genre, i.e., as an independent box handle and as a box with the handle designed right in.

My question is, if I move forward with a full patent, will I be able to file more than one patent referencing the provisional, i.e., one for a handle that can be added to a box and one for a box designed with the handle built right in? Is it enough to patent the handle and just assume that no one would be able to build a box with the handle integrated? I know there are a lot of "it depends" conditions and that's fine. I'm just looking for general guidelines on what's possible and what's likely.

Many Thanks!

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The answer to the question in the title of the post - More than one non-provisional patent application can claim the benefit of a single provisional application.Not your question but - Also, a single non-provisonal patent application can claim the benefit of multiple provisional applications

An answer to the question in the body of the post - Most likely both your non-provisonal application and your provisional application would cover all implementations you can think of including just the handle, the handle integrated into a box, the handle integrated into several other box-like things. In the claims portion of the non-provisonal you can have some claims directed to just a handle and other directed to a box with an integrated handle. You may get claims on both or it may turn out that the handle isn't new but in the past it had always been used on something other than boxes, or the way you integrate into the box makes a novel and non-obvious whole. Another possibility is the examiner issues a restriction requirement and you need decide to go forward with the system or with the handle in that initial application. You can later file a divisional application to go back and try for the second version. It will keep all the dates of the original application back to the provisional.

This is an easy question, if you are going to write your own patent application it is a very small tip of a very big iceberg.

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Very helpful, George. Thanks. Your "tip of the iceberg" comment is well taken. I certainly would not not intend to write my own non-provisional patent. –  user7340 Dec 6 '13 at 15:12
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