Misconceptions of provisional patent applications
There are many misconceptions about patents and particularly provisional patent applications. First of all, in order to get an issued patent you, you will eventually have to file a non-provisional patent application and go through a long (2-6 year) process of arguing back and forth with a patent examiner to convince them that your invention is new and not obvious. Once you get through this process, hopefully your patent application will issue as a patent. Therefore, simply filing a patent application is not the same as having a patent just like applying to get your drivers license is not the same as having your license.
Provisional patent applications are usually filed online at the patent office website (USPTO.gov) and you are given an electronic receipt which shows your patent application serial number and receipt date. Provisional patent applications are never examined or even looked at by a real person. They are merely a placeholder and will eventually expire after 12 months unless you take additional action and pay additional fees. Most people will file a provisional patent application first, use their 12 months of time to try and raise money or improve upon their invention and then file a more expensive non-provisional patent application within that 12 month window.