The provisional patent application (PPA) is a simple, inexpensive strategy for preserving your rights while you decide whether to file for a regular patent. If you want a patent, you will have to file a regular application within a year after you file your PPA. You won’t automatically lose patent rights if you fail to file a regular patent application within a year after you file the provisional application. But you will lose the benefits of the PPA -- the earlier filing date and the right to claim “patent pending” status..
Keep in mind that the inventor who relies on a PPA gets the full 20-year term from the date the regular application is filed. The PPA need contain only a portion of the information presently required in a patent application specification—a complete description of the invention (structure and operation) and any drawings that are necessary to understand the description. The PPA need not include claims, formal drawings, a Patent Application Declaration, or an Information Disclosure Statement.