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My question is regarding a provisional utility patent. I’ve been told (by non-professionals) that it is advantageous to make your provisional as detailed as possible. The way I understand this advice is that by including excessive detail in your provisional you will be able to pick, choose, and narrow down when it comes time for the non-provisional. However, if you’re too brief/vague in the provisional you may end up being forced to file a non-provisional that provides inadequate protection or filing a new provisional and thus losing priority.

My question is:

Is this advice is generally sound, and if so, are there any drawbacks to being overly detailed in a provisional utility patent? Any info would be greatly appreciated.

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In all offices its allowed that inventor first file all enabling disclosure (what you have) as provisional application (not WIPO) and then come up with an attorney of your choice and file all forms and claims according to ACT.

You have a question which is context based. There are two mindsets through which to consider this question: one says disclose what you have and project what you want, and the other says provide all components of what you have and almost all possible ways to interpret things where it can be applied.

If the inventor is not sure what the broadest claim they can have is, they should disclose all information without limiting their interpretation and briefly outline in separate paragraphs with non-limiting objectives with all possible ways where they can be applied. Later they can have an attorney assist in finding appropriate claims.

In all cases, if your words indicate some limiting subject matter, you will end up with a narrow claim or PaperIP. It's best to have an IP law expert as a drafter from the start.

An earlier 'Ask Patents' user has answered a similar question Fixing a poorly written patent application that has not been published. Also see Which countries require a claim for using a PPA as priority date?. You might also find these questions interesting:

Provisional application drawings vs non provisional patent drawings

How similar does non provisional and provisional patent have to be?

How detailed should a provisional patent application be? (Software)

Should I file multiple provisional patent applications when my invention can span different sizes?

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