Patent Application Tips

Patent Application Tips

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The description, together with the claims, is often referred to as the specification. As this word suggests, these are the sections of the patent application where you specify what your machine or process is and how it differs from previous patents and technology.

The description starts off with general background information and progresses to more and more detailed information about your machine or process and its parts. By starting with an overview and continuing with increasing levels of detail you guide the reader to a full description of your intellectual property.

You must write a complete and thorough description as you cannot add any new information to your patent application once it is filed. If you are required by the patent examiner to make any changes, you can only make changes to the subject matter of your invention that could be reasonably inferred from the original drawings and description.

Professional help may be of benefit to ensure maximum protection for your intellectual property. Be careful not to add any misleading information or omit relevant items.

Although your drawings are not part of the description (drawings are on separate pages) you should refer to them to explain your machine or process. Where appropriate, include chemical and mathematical formulae in the description.

Examples - Looking at Other Patents Helps You With Yours

Consider this example of a description of a collapsible tent frame. The applicant begins by giving background information and quoting previous similar patents. The section then continues with a summary of the invention which provides a general description of the tent frame. Following this is a listing of the figures and a detailed description of each element of the tent frame.

The description of this patent for an electrical connector is divided into the description of the background of the invention (including the field of the invention and prior art), a summary of the invention, a brief description of the drawings {bottom of page}, and a detailed description of the electrical connector.

How to Write the Description

Below are some how-to instructions and tips to help get you started writing the description of your invention. When you are satisfied with the description you can begin the claims section of a patent application. Remember that the description and claims are the bulk of your written patent application.

When writing the description, use the following order, unless you can describe your invention better or more economically in another way. The order is:

  1. Title
  2. Technical field
  3. Background information and prior art
  4. Description of how your invention addresses a technical problem
  5. List of figures
  6. A detailed description of your invention
  7. One example of intended use
  8. A ​sequence listing (if relevant)

To begin, it might be helpful to just jot down brief notes and points to cover from each of the above headings. As you polish your description into its final form, you can use the outline suggested below.

  1. Begin on a new page by stating the title of your invention. Make it short, precise and specific. For example, if your invention is a compound, say "Carbon tetrachloride" not "Compound". Avoid calling the invention after yourself or using the words new or improved. Aim to give it a title that can be found by people using a few keywords during a patent searching.
  2. Write a broad statement that gives the technical field related to your invention.
  3. Continue by offering background information that people will need to: understand, search for, or examine, your invention.
  4. Discuss the problems that inventors have faced in this area and how they have attempted to solve them. This is often called giving the prior art. The prior art is the published body of knowledge that relates to your invention. It is at this point that applicants frequently quote previous similar patents.
  5. State in general terms how your invention solves one or several of these problems. What you are trying to show is how your invention is new and different.
  6. List the drawings giving the figure number and a brief description of what the drawings illustrate. Remember to refer to drawings throughout the detailed description and to use the same reference numbers for each element.
  7. Describe your intellectual property in detail. For an apparatus or product, describe each part, how they fit together and how they work together. For a process, describe each step, what you start with, what you need to do to make the change, and the end result. For a compound include the chemical formula, the structure and the process which could be used to make the compound. You need to make the description fit all the possible alternatives that relate to your invention. If a part can be made out of several different materials, say so. You should aim to describe each part in sufficient detail so that someone could reproduce at least one version of your invention.
  8. Give an example of an intended use for your invention. You should also include any warnings of commonly used in the field that would be necessary to avert failure.
  9. If relevant to your type of invention, provide the sequence listing of your compound. The sequence is part of the description and is not included in any drawings.

One of the best ways to understand how to write a patent for your type of invention is to take a look at already issued patents. Visit the USPTO online and do a search for patents issued for similar inventions to yours.

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