How much specific details I need to provide in utility non provisional patent application? I am into IT for around 2 decades now. Provisional - I filed on my own. My provisional application was around 13 pages with almost 5 diagrams. How much details I need to provide in my utility non provisional patent application? I am in the process of hiring the patent attorney also. But i will do all the invention specific work. I am taking the analogy that provisional patent application is more like "Business Idea and requirements document" while Non provisional patent application is more like "Architecture and High level design". Is my understanding good enough? I am into IT and working as an IT Architect into Java/Bigdata for Business applications development. First time working for the patent application.

Please help me out with this.

  • 1
    I think you analogy for provisional vs non-provisional application is off target. My advise is to consult with your attorney. Let the attorney do his/her job.
    – Eric S
    Feb 18, 2018 at 20:03
  • Nothing really turns on this detail, but I am curious: how can you have "almost 5 diagrams"? Surely diagrams are integral, such that you can't have 4.9 diagrams. If you take a diagram, and remove 10% of it, you still have 1 diagram (just a less good one).
    – Maca
    Feb 18, 2018 at 23:07
  • @Maca Sometimes when people are asking the question they may not be providing the exact details whether it is 4 diagrams or 5 diagrams...so please don't discourage newbies and do a fault finding this way. It's 3 visio diagrams and 3 collage diagrams. End of the day I would like to know how much details is enough...all the patent attorneys I have approached- have understood my provisional patent application in one pass with any back and forth Q&As.
    – Ashu
    Feb 19, 2018 at 1:52
  • I have a better analogy - the provisional is what you ship to your client onto a closed system on a fusion reactor (or something else that doesn't allow constant testing updating and bug fixing) and you'll have to work with that for the next 20 yrs. If you're lucky and your client allows you to do a thorough update after 1 year (= no new prior art) you can do that with a non provisional. If there is a publication in that year your client doesn't allow an update and you'll have to maintain what you shipped. Oh, did I mention that you only get paid if there is no nuclear meltdown? ;-)
    – user18033
    Feb 19, 2018 at 7:21
  • @DonQuiKong - thanks for the answer...but do you have something more simpler than that? I do understand that atomic bombs were invented in 1944-45 and hydrogen bombs within next 15-20 years but still they are not that easy for common people like me to understand.
    – Ashu
    Feb 20, 2018 at 3:54

2 Answers 2


You need to include enough details to comply with the various requirements for a patent application.

For example, in the US, you must provide a written description which enables any person skilled in the art to make and use the invention, and provides the best mode (35 USC § 112). There are of course a number of other requirements, and it would be impossible to describe them all: that is why you need an attorney.

As Eric Shain points out in his comment, the analogy to software documents is not really appropriate. The purpose of a provisional patent application is to provide priority for a non-provisional patent application, whereas a requirements document does not. The purpose of a non-provisional patent application is to obtain a patent, whereas an architecture design document does not. A non-provisional patent application specification is really a singular document, which cannot be approached as anything other than a non-provisional patent application specification.


Agreeing with @Maca, if push comes to shove and the date of filing of the provisional is needed to overcome some reference that came out between filing the provisional and the non-provisional, it will looked at for support of the claims with exactly the same criteria as would be applied to looking for adequate support in a non-provisional; Overcoming such a reference is the only real job of a provisional and if does not teach how to make and use the claimed invention, in the identical detail required of a non-provisional, it will not do that job.

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