Posts Tagged: "completely describing an invention"

Turn Your Idea into an Invention with a Good Description

In reality, it is probably better to think of the description requirement as the core to patentability. If you can describe your idea with enough specificity you no longer have an idea, but rather have migrated past the idea-invention boundary, which means you have something that can be patented if it is unique. The crux of this so-called adequate description requirement is that once the first four patentability requirements are satisfied the applicant still must describe the invention with enough particularity such that those skilled in the relevant technology will be able to make, use and understand the invention that was made by the inventor. For the most part, and from a legal perspective, this requirement can be explained as consisting of three major parts. First is the enablement requirement, next is the best mode requirement and finally is the written description requirement.

Patent Claim Drafting 101: The Basics

When writing a claim it is important to describe how the various components are structured and how the various components interact and connect. First, include a claim that defines your invention in broad terms, leaving out any and all unnecessary options. Second, include another claim that defines your invention with as much specificity and with every option you can think of. It does not matter that the claims won’t be in perfect format, with appropriate being defined as the format the Patent Office will ultimately require. At the initial filing stage what matters most is that claims are present and they have appropriate scope, with some being broad and some being narrow and quite specific. By starting to write these two claims you will “bookend” your invention. By this I mean you have disclosed the very broad and generic version of your invention, as well as the highly specified version.

Writing Software Patent Applications

Collecting the information necessary to prepare a patent application covering a computer related invention can be quite challenging. Typically, most computer related inventions today relate at least in some way to software, which is at the core of the challenge. This software challenge stems from the fact that the software code is not protected by patent law, but rather how the software operates is protected. This means that the description needs to be one that can be replicated by others regardless of how they choose to write code to accomplish the necessary tasks.

Does the term “Invention” in the Specification Limit the Claims?

There are some that will tell you that the use of the term “invention” or “present invention” in the specification will limit the claims. This misguided belief suggests that merely using the word “invention” or the phrase “present invention” in the specification creates a problem for the claims. I have heard this numerous times over the years. Every time I hear this it is like fingers on a chalkboard.

Working with Patent Illustrations to Create a Complete Disclosure

What you are looking at here is something that is similar to a Big Mac because it has two beef patties, which are identified by reference numeral 10. It isn’t quite a Big Mac through because there is no special sauce, and there are tomatoes 18 added. Having a drawing like this makes it easy to describe the hamburger, but it also makes it easy to describe more than what is shown in the drawing. Allow me to illustrate. In a patent application you might describe this drawing as follows…

Patent Drafting: Describing What is Unique Without Puffing

Although a patent application is not a sales pitch per se, most inventors will find it quite helpful to list as many descriptive objectives of the invention as is possible. As a general rule you should, however, stay away from laudatory language and puffery (e.g. “the best gadget known to man” or “the perfect solution” or “using this tool is unquestionably the choice any professional would make”). When you puff the tendency is to skimp on the descriptive details, which are essential to an appropriate patent application. Further, is anyone really likely to take your word for it being “the best”? That is why infomercials demonstrate the functional capabilities of an invention. In a patent application you need to describe the functionality and leave the selling to the salespeople later.

Patent Claim Drafting: Improvements and Jepson Claims

But how do you go about patenting an improvement? The first thing you must do is figure out what the advantages are over the prior art. You need to take a critical look at your own invention and identify that which distinguishes it over the prior art. You should absolutely focus on structure, not on the method of use. Differences in the method of use will only come into play if you are claiming a new and nonobvious method of using, which is typically not the case. In the overwhelming majority of cases you want to protect the device or apparatus, which makes use differences irrelevant.

Ordinary Plain Meaning: Defining Terms in a Patent Application

The question of whether a term is defined adequately is really a legal question, so the views and opinions of those who are not well versed in the law are hardly probative. Inventors invent and patent attorneys describe those inventions to satisfy the legal requirements. If inventors could describe their inventions to meet the legal requirements they wouldn’t need patent attorneys, but we all know that inventors who represent themselves make numerous errors and always obtain far more narrow protection than they would have been entitled to receive. They just don’t understand the law well enough and are not qualified to offer opinions on matters of law.

Patent Drafting: Drilling Down on Variations in a Patent Application

One of the challenges that a drafter faces when trying to satisfy the enablement requirement is with respect to describing things that can and will vary depending on the circumstances. What you want to do is follow up by explaining the various permutations to help the reader more readily understand what facts, choices or circumstances will have impact.

Describing Your Invention Completely in a Patent Application

It is also very important to explain with as much detail as possible, paying particular attention to unobvious or counter-intuitive steps, connections or limitations, paying particular attention to any preparations that may be necessary prior to beginning the making or using process. Perhaps you should try and describe your invention in words in a way that would convey meaning to someone who is blind. This is a tough task no doubt, but the goal of the written disclosure is to provide verbal description that is much like a step by step how to manual. If you are trying to describe your invention to someone who cannot see then you will invariably find creative and enlightening ways to verbally get your message across. This is the type of detail that should be in an application.

Defining the Full Glory of Your Invention in a Patent Application

Unless you are claiming a perpetual motion machine, which based on our current understanding of science is understood to be impossible, you do not need to have a working prototype in order to obtain a patent. In fact, the rules and regulations of the Patent Office do not require a working prototype except when you specifically claim a perpetual motion machine. Given that our scientific understanding is that perpetual motion machines cannot exist, and given that inventors frequently file patent applications claiming perpetual motion machines, the Patent Office does require a working prototype, which will be tested. So if you do not claim a perpetual motion machine the patent examiner will never ask you for a prototype. All you need to do is define the invention in writing, through the use of text and illustrations, so that someone of skill in the relevant technical field would be able to understand the scope of your invention, understand how to make and use the invention, and understand what, if any, preferences you have relative to what you are claiming as your invention.

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