What is a non-provisional application? It's the big one. The main application. The most important part of the process and it's the document which will ultimately be reviewed and negotiated with the patent office. If it's the big deal, why does it have a non- as its prefix? Bad luck, because it the provisional application could be thought of as a substitute until the main, non-provisional application is filed.
What does a complete non-provisional contain? The Manual for Patent Examining Procedure, Chapter 601 states that it must include (1) a specification conforming to 35 U.S.C. 112, (2) at least one claim, and (3) any necessary drawings. But please don't just file these three things. If you do, you will be hit with extra fees. When an attorney files an application for you, it includes other paperwork which declares your name (or the inventor's name), an oath that the inventor actually invented the subject of the application, and of course, the inevitable fees. The search fee, the filing fee, the examination fees to be precise.
Let's discuss each of the Chapter 601 requirements in a bit more detail. Starting with the specification. The specification of the patent application should describe the invention so that a person skilled in the art to which it pertains can make and use the invention. What does that mean? It means that the description of the invention should be detailed enough so that a colleague of the inventor could make and use it. The specification should also describe the best method known by the inventor of carrying out the invention.
The next requirement is at least one claim. A patent claim is what the inventor actually declares to be his or her own. This is difference from the specification because the application may include information about previously invented devices or ideas in order to distinguish those from his or her own. The claims section of the disclosure contains only what the inventors declares to be theirs. When a court examines a patent and compares it to some other allegedly infringing device, it compares the claims part of the patent to what the device is or how it operates. For this reason, the claims part of the application is subject to intense scrutiny by the patent office. Claims should be drafted in certain language. Many of the claims rules are listed here.
Finally, the drawings. Drawings are usually necessary to disclose an invention. There are many rules about how to draw and label figures in the Manual for Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP). Many of them are state here. Because they are mostly incidental to the application, this blog will not discuss the specifics.