The book I'm reading ("Patent It Yourself" by Pressman & Blau) says patent applications cannot be edited after submission. In particular, it says:
If your patent application is rejected because of incomplete disclosure, usually there is nothing you can do since you aren't allowed to add any 'new matter' (additional technical information) to a pending application. In other words, you must get it right the first time.
And the reason it gives for why this is the case, is to prevent patents that have already passed through the approval process, from changing. It says:
Without the rule, an applicant could continuously add improvements and modifications, so that you would never know exactly what their invention covers. Imagine looking at a competitor's patent and thinking you are safe, then being sued out of the blue for infringing an improvement they just added!
But if a patent fails the approval process, wouldn't it never be disclosed to the public? Why can't a patent application be edited throughout the approval process before the patent is approved and awarded? And, if an application is rejected, can an inventor submit another application for the same (or similar) invention, hoping that the application will pass approval that later time?