Importance of Documenting the Invention

Document progress to prove inventorship

Meticulously documenting the life cycle of an invention from conception to building a working model or filing a patent application may be a laborious task. Nonetheless, proper documentation of the life cycle of an invention may be important in certain circumstances in order to prove that you and not another inventor is entitled to the patent.

First to file versus first to invent

In certain foreign countries, patents are granted to the first inventor to win the race to the patent office to file a patent application on the invention. However, unlike these foreign countries, the United States provides patent rights to the first person who conceives the invention and diligently works to make a working model of the invention or has a patent application filed with the Patent Office. In the event of a dispute between two inventors as to who first invented the invention, the documentation of the invention’s life cycle may be used to resolve the dispute.  On March 16, 2012, the United States is transitioning to a first inventor to file system which bring the United States closer to the rest of the world with a few exceptions.  Even under the first inventor to file rule, documenting development of the invention is still important to identify the inventors and to prove that you actually invented the invention.


The documentation should include information such as a dated sketch of the invention, a written explanation of how the invention operates and other important details. There are many books on the market that teach inventors how to document the invention.  I have listed them on my Linkedin Profile which you can access by clicking on the Linkedin button on the right.

You may also be interested in Misplaced Reliance on First to Invent, Just File First.

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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James Yang is an Orange County patent lawyer and welcomes potential clients throughout California including Orange County, Riverside County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Ana, Irvine, Orange, Anaheim, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Tustin, Brea, Fullerton, Buena Park, Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, Laguna Niguel, Stanton, San Clemente, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Cypress, Laguna Beach, Coto de Caza, Costa Mesa, Aliso Viejo, Ladera Ranch, Dana Point and Foothill Ranch.