Should Inventors Draft Patent Applications?

It is not at all uncommon for inventors to want to attempt to draft and file patent applications on their own.  This is in no small part due to the fact that if an independent inventor goes to a patent attorney the attorney will typically require somewhere from $5,000 to $10,000 up front prior to commencing representation.  This is a lot of money for many inventors, particular first time inventors who are trying to invent to follow a dream and/or to perhaps be able to start a business and work for themselves.  It is for this reason that many will proceed without an attorney, and perhaps even fall into the clutches of a disreputable invention promotion company.

I am frequently asked if it is a good idea for inventors to file their own patent applications.  I suspect when this question is asked the person asking the question already knows the answer, but is hoping against hope that they may be told to go right ahead.

The truth of the matter is that drafting a patent application is no small undertaking.  There are many laws and rules that must be taken into consideration, and if you are not knowledgeable with respect to how the courts are interpreting patent claims currently you are doing little more than guessing or taking your best, uneducated shot, which is not a recipe for success.

I have taught patent application drafting and patent claim drafting courses for over 10 years, and even when motivated, intelligent individuals are new to this area there are an endless string of mistakes that are made.  Thus, it is not surprising that most patent attorneys believe that a new patent attorney or agent is really not ready to draft a patent application on their own until they have had somewhere between 20 to 25 applications under their belt at the elbow, or under the guidance of, an experienced patent attorney.  So now ask yourself this: If a patent attorney who has drafted 10 patent applications under the guidance of a mentor is not yet ready to go solo, why would you as an independent inventor with no experience think you could do an adequate job on your own?

If you are serious about filing a patent application and hiring a patent attorney is simply out of the question due to the expense, there are some things you can do to help yourself.  Perhaps the lowest threshold of assistance would be to obtain a copy of the popular do-it-yourself patent book – Patent It Yourself.  This book is not bad, but it is not going to teach you all of the nuances you really ought to know about preparing and filing a patent application.  You can come out with a good patent application if you follow what this book tells you to do, but there are things that are suggested that no patent attorney would ever do.  Thus, when I see a patent application written by an independent inventor I can always tell when they have used Patent It Yourself.  This does not mean you shouldn’t get it, but do understand the limitations.  The book typically sells for under $50, which should tell you something.  It is a good start to understanding how to draft a patent, but no single book is going to be able to take you from novice to competent.

If you are going to try and do it alone and you would like some assistance to coach you through providing the critical information that is legally required, try the Invent + Patent System.  This system enables the inventor to drive the application process and stay engaged throughout the process. By answering a series of specific, legally derived questions, the inventor provides extremely detailed information. Rather than wasting time, money and energy creating an acceptable patent application the patent attorney can focus on spending time adding the most possible value and expanding the description of the invention to provide the maximum protection possible.

The Invent + Patent System™ uses a unique mentored application writing process I developed while teaching patent drafting courses.  I needed to devise a method for teaching law school students how to competently draft patent applications. As a result, I came up with a system that could easily teach law students and new attorneys how to draft applications. Based on this early success, the system was adapted for use with inventors. Early versions of the system have been in use since 2004, and have proved to be tremendously successful in both ensuring quality and reducing cost substantially.


Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of

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One comment so far.

  • [Avatar for Wayd McNally]
    Wayd McNally
    September 7, 2010 08:00 pm

    Very informative web site. Well done! I will be back often.