Anatomy of a Patent Document

Sections of a patent

The patent document is divided into several sections which provide different types of information regarding the invention. The patent document is comprised of the following sections:

  • Summary page
  • Drawing set
  • Background of the invention
  • Brief summary of the invention
  • Brief description of the drawings
  • Detailed description of the invention
  • Claim set

Example patent

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Summary page

The summary page includes:

1) Patent Number – used to identify the patent

2) Name(s) of Inventor(s) – last name of the first inventor is also used to identify the patent

3) Serial Number – a unique serial number assigned to every patent application

4) Abstract- used to indicate the general nature and gist of the patent’s subject matter (MPEP 608.01(b); 37 CFR 1.72)

5) Prior Art References – show all references considered by the Patent Office

6) Representative Drawing – selected by the examiner to illustrate the claimed invention


The drawing set is used to aid in the understanding of the invention. The written text of the patent application will refer to features in the drawing set by reference numeral. The drawings must also show all claimed elements.


The background of the invention section of the patent document may describe the general nature of the problem to be solved by the invention and the state of the existing technology (MPEP 608.01(c)).

Brief summary

The brief summary of the invention section provides a condensed version of the detailed description of the invention. The brief description of the drawing identifies all figures.

Detailed description

The detailed description of the invention describes the invention in detail so as to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to practice the invention without undue experimentation. (MPEP 608.01(g)). This requirement ensures that the public is able to use the invention after expiration of the patent’s term.

Claim set (Most important part of the patent)

The claim set section defines the metes and bounds (i.e., scope) of patent protection afforded under the patent. It is located at the back of the patent document. It usually starts with a phrase “I Claim,” “We Claim” or “What is claimed is.” The claim set must particularly point out and distinctly claim the subject matter which the inventor regards as his/her invention. (MPEP 608.01(i); 37 CFR 1.75).

I invite you to contact me with your patent questions at (949) 433-0900 or Please feel free to forward this article to your friends. As an Orange County Patent Attorney, I serve Orange County, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and surrounding cities.

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