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As I understand it, the USPTO will not examine the provisional patent until the non-provisional is submitted. Once filed with the USPTO is there any reason not to share the provisional application with the public? Family members? Potential customers?

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Yes, improvements.

If you file the same application content of the prov. as a non-provisional, you're fine.

If you add a few improvements, they get the filing date of the non-prov. app.

The non-disclosure of the prov. in combination with the priority protects you against having that prov. used as a basis for obviousness. If however you disclose the prov., your improvements (= anything not disclosed in the prov.) can (and often will) be obvious in light of your disclosure.

(I'm ignoring the grace period, because it's US only.)

  • you can chose to ignore the grace period in your answer, but the question was about a provisional, providing a very strong presumption that the question is about U.S., filing. So the logic that you are ignoring it because it is only U.S. doesn't make sense. The question is about the U.S. – George White Feb 6 '18 at 21:48
  • @GeorgeWhite and if OP wants to destroy any chances to go PCT they are of course free to do that. But I'm not putting that in my answer unless specifically asked because I'm in Europe ;) – DonQuiKong Feb 7 '18 at 5:08
  • @DonQuiKing - wow - I think the context of the question should be the primary context of an answer, not a prospective answerer's location. – George White Feb 7 '18 at 20:15
  • @GeorgeWhite yeah and then when op files a pct comes the great awakening. The grace period is one of the biggest traps the us patent system offers. Plus I don't think the question is about the grace period because then the answer would be whatever, tell everyone and file within the grace period. – DonQuiKong Feb 7 '18 at 20:21

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