QUESTION: Should an inexperienced person filing a provisional patent application just leave out the claims (as allowed), or is it better to add at least one claim that is very broad in scope? What is the benefit of putting a claim in a provisional patent since claims can be totally amended later during the non-provisional application? For example: I want my eventual claim to be as broad and powerful as possible, and I’m pretty sure my claim can cover all sorts of variations of what I want to make, but I’m not positive if any of these many possible variations have been made before. If I attempt to make my claim to cover every variation am I shooting myself in the foot by not being specific enough, or can I totally change the claim to be more specific later if needed when I working with an actual patent lawyer for the non-provisional? Care will be taken to make a very detailed description of different embodiments in the provisional application.

ANSWER: It can be beneficial to add one or a few independent claims, particularly if you want to use the provisional application to claim “priority” in a PCT application.