Note: This article is part of a series on how to write a great patent application.
The Detailed Description section of a patent application serves a number of goals:
- Investors should be persuaded that the patent application adequately protects the invention.
- An examiner should be able to quickly understand the invention.
- Laypeople should be able to understand the invention.
- A judge and jury should be able to understand the invention.
- Satisfy the written description requirement.
How to use the outline to write the Detailed Description
The outline is a checklist that can also act as an organizational tool. As you write the Detailed Description, refer to the outline to make sure that you are including the information you intend to.
After you finish writing, check the outline to make sure that each item in the outline is stated somewhere in the Detailed Description.
What is the tone of the Detailed Description?
The tone of the Detailed Description should not be legal but conversational, mixed with some legal verbiage (see below). In the end, it should be understandable to a high school student.
As Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
How to organize the content of the Detailed Description
Use the claims to organize the content of the Detailed Description
A perfectly acceptable way to craft a patent application is to just explain the meaning of the words used in the claim.
For example, if the invention is directed to a tripod and you used the phrase “supporting a camera,” then you would explain as many aspects of the support and camera as you can. You would then move on to the next word/phrase until you have explained the meaning of each word/phrase in the claim.
However, to use this method, your claims must be fully developed. Unless you have extensive experience as a patent attorney, most attempts at writing a fully developed claim set won’t be good enough to use this method.
Use the drawings to organize the content of the Detailed Description
Instead of explaining the claim’s verbiage, another method is to explain the drawings. Patent rules require that the drawings show each and every feature recited in the claims. So theoretically speaking, if you described all aspects of the drawings, then you would be explaining all of the concepts recited in the claims. You could organize the Detailed Description by describing all aspects of Figure 1, then Figure 2, and so on until you finish describing all aspects of each figure.
Alternatively, you could use the drawings to tell a story about the invention.
Discuss each benefit of the invention, then describe how to make and use the invention
Another way to organize the Detailed Description is to explain each benefit of the invention and the corresponding structures and features found in the drawings. You would then move on to the second and third benefits and features.
After discussing how to make the invention, a detailed explanation of how to use the invention should be included.
For some, this is an easier way to prepare a Detailed Description. Also, it is more conversational because it tells a story of the invention.
Each writer has to determine the easiest approach for them.
How to add numbers to the text and drawings
When you draft the Detailed Description, you need to refer to the invention’s parts with numbers (use the numbering worksheet). This allows the reader to follow along via the text and drawings.
Please use consistent verbiage. If you call a screw a “fastener,” then always use that term.
What are a few common mistakes to avoid?
The most common mistake is writing in a technical fashion. People will use industry-specific terms without explaining what they mean. You cannot expect the reader to understand such jargon. Again, the patent application should be readily understood by most.
Another common mistake is using broad terms. People believe that doing so gives them broad patent protection. This is not actually true. The claims define the scope of protection in a patent. You should use broad terms in the claims, but you should be detail-oriented in the Detailed Description. The words you use in the Detailed Description give meaning to the words in the claims.
What is some useful boilerplate language to use in the Detailed Description?
Use the phrase “by way of example and not limitation” to expand upon your preferred version. For example, you might prefer to have a metallic material, but other materials will be considered.
“Including but not limited to” is also useful. It is similar to “by way of example and not limitation.”
Use the word “may” (not “is”) unless you are writing about an absolute fact. “May” offers a broader interpretation of what your invention is.
Do not use the term “invention” in your patent application. Courts have only used this word to narrow patent protection.
How NOT to start the Detailed Description section
Don’t start the Detailed Description with boilerplate language.
In my practice, I’ve seen many patent applications start with boilerplate language. It might explain some interpretational rules when words are used. If you want to include some boilerplate language in the patent application, that is fine. However, put it at the end of the Detailed Description. It won’t have a greater impact on interpreting the patent application if it is at the very top. It just makes your writing more boring.
How to write the perfect application
A perfect application does not exist. Even if you had unlimited funds to pay a patent attorney to prepare the application, there would be mistakes. You can always improve a patent application. This becomes the important question: At what point does spending more time on it gives diminishing returns?
Disclaimer: Use the information in this article at your own risk. It takes many years to learn how to draft a well-written patent application under the guidance of a senior patent attorney.