Provisional patent applications are not published and thus are not searchable. Provisional patent applications are held in confidence and are not examined until a corresponding non-provisional application is filed.
After a non-provisional application is filed it is generally published within 18 months of the first application filing (unless a timely non-publication request is submitted). At publication the electronic file wrapper of the application is made public by the USPTO. The file wrapper of the non-provisional application is linked to the provisional filing, and thus only at this stage is the provisional patent application filing available for inspection. However, the contents of the provisional patent application are never published.