These articles are an introduction to the basics of preparing a patent application. Just the basics. The patent application is an intricate document. The document needs to be simple and clear enough for a jury to understand it. It also needs to be sophisticated and robust enough so that engineers can make and use your invention. This section introduces:
- Anatomy of the patent document, the background, detailed description, claim language and much more
- Writing a broad patent applications
- Pros and cons of design patents
- Importance of defining the invention
- Preparing utility and design patent application drawings
- Claim language
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 … [...]
Define the invention
In this first installment, we will discuss the importance of defining the invention in light of the overall patent process. Core Concept #1 Details versus broad concept This core concept relates to defining the invention. Oftentimes, in defining the invention, the details divert our attention away from seeing the broadest embodiment of the … [...]
What is a patent application?
A patent application can be either a utility patent application (i.e., provisional or nonprovisional patent application) or a design patent application. A utility patent application includes a written description and drawing of how to make and use an invention (i.e., enablement requirement). A design patent application is made of a set of drawings showing the […]
What is a nonprovisional patent application?
A nonprovisional patent application establishes patent pendency for your invention. Also, it establishes a priority date for your invention. The nonprovisional patent application will be examined on a first-come, first-served basis. The USPTO typically takes about 14 months to 2 years to examine the patent application. What documents make up a nonprovisional patent application? A […]
What is a provisional patent application?
A provisional patent application establishes a priority date for the invention described and shown in the specification and drawings. The invention is patent pending and your product can be labeled as patent pending. You can have the confidence in knowing that anyone that files a patent application after you cannot steal your invention away from […]
What is a design patent?
A design patent protects the visual appearance of a product or the way that a product looks – not its function. On average, the patent office will grant the design patent in about 20.7 months as of June 23, 2022. The probability of obtaining a design patent is 83.8 %. The design patent is enforceable […]
Differences between a provisional and nonprovisional patent application
The primary difference between a provisional application and a nonprovisional application is that the provisional patent application is never examined whereas the nonprovisional patent application will eventually be examined. As such, the primary reason that one might want to file a provisional patent application instead of a nonprovisional patent application is to delay long-term examination […]
Provisional Patent Application: Cheap Alternative?
A provisional utility patent application is one of the most misunderstood tools of the patent system—at least by non-patent practitioners. From the layperson’s perspective, the provisional patent application is usually viewed as a cheap patent application. However, as discussed below, the provisional patent application is not cheap compared to the cost to prepare a nonprovisional […]
Preparing Drawings for a Utility Patent Application
The drawing set for a utility patent application is one of the most important parts of the patent application. The drawings are a quick, easy way for a reader to establish some understanding of what to expect if they were to spend time reading the utility patent or application. Patent rules also require the drawings […]
Limits on trade dress protection when also securing a utility patent
Types of intellectual property rights Four main types of intellectual property rights are used to protect products: patents, trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights. The product may be protected by one or more of these types of intellectual property rights. For example, a design patent may be sought for the ornamental look of the product. Simultaneously, […]
Transitional phrase in a claim determines scope of patent protection
A patent claim has three major sections, namely, a preamble, a transitional phrase, and a body. The body of the claim contains the elements which define the scope of patent protection as defined by that claim. The transitional phrase indicates whether incorporating other elements or components in an accused infringing device other than those elements […]
Claim scope negatively impacted due to deleted info from provisional application
The words that one uses in describing the invention in a patent application have significant impact as to the claim scope in any patent that might mature from the patent application. In MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC v. Ricoh Americas Corporation (Fed. Cir. February 13, 2017), a non-provisional patent application which was identical to its corresponding […]
Functional language invalidates patent claim
In AGIS, Inc. v. Life360, Inc. (Fed. Cir. July 28, 2016), AGIS (patent owner) held a patent directed to a cellular communication system that allows multiple cellular phone users to monitor the location of others and their status via a visual display. Symbols generated on the visual display (e.g., user’s cellular phone) represented the locations […]
Avoid disparaging prior art in patent application
Updated: January 20, 2022 Disparaging the prior art in the patent application may narrow patent claims When a patent application disparages a prior art technique, feature, aspect, or apparatus, the court may assume that there is a disclaimer of the disparaged subject matter and may then narrow the scope of the claims to exclude the disparaged […]
Claim Drafting Tip: Avoid means plus function claims
Bottom line: A claim with a means plus function limitation may invalidate the claim if the claim and the specification are not properly drafted. As such, it may be prudent to avoid language that implicates means plus function such as solely functional language and the operative trigger term “means.” Moreover, this case (Media Rights Technologies […]
Patent Drafting Tip: Alternative embodiments create prior art
Bottom line: An application for patent generally focuses on the preferred embodiments of the invention but it may be prudent to also include alternative non-preferred embodiments. One reason for including these alternative embodiments is to provide a buffer zone around the preferred embodiments of the invention to prevent others from obtaining a patent on these […]
How NOT to write the background section of a patent application?
The background section of a patent application is supposed to describe the current state of the art. The background section might describe the problem associated with the current technology. For example, the current technology is too slow, too expensive, not easy to use. Your invention might solve one or more of the problems. The best […]
How to write a broad patent application?
Inventors think that a broad patent (one that covers everything from A to Z) is one that describes the invention in generic terms without describing the particulars of the invention. Inventors will describe their inventions to me by describing the overall goals and the overall mechanisms that achieve those overall goals. Their goal is to […]
Expedited examination at the USPTO
Expedited examination is available to applicants to reduce average prosecution pendency at the Patent Office. They are used to cut to the front of the line instead of waiting on a first come-first served basis, reduce misunderstanding that might cause the examiner to reject the application, and speed up examination. The purpose is to give preference to those patent application which either the Government or the applicant deems important to cut to the front of the line.
Design patents: pros and cons
Basic types of patents Three types of patents are issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. 1. Utility patent; 2. Design patent; and 3. Plant patent (not discussed here). Basic differences between utility and design patents Each of these types of patents cover different aspects of an invention. Utility patents protect functional features. […]
Broad claims pose enablement issues
Law on enablement requirement A patent specification must enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the full scope of the claimed invention without undue experimentation under 35 USC 112, first paragraph. Otherwise, such claim is invalid for failing to satisfy the enablement requirement. The enablement doctrine prevents both inadequate disclosure […]
Request for non-publication of a patent application
Non Publication Requests A nonpublication request is a request by the patent applicant to not publish a nonprovisional patent application. By default, every nonprovisional patent application is published 18 months after the filing date of the patent application. The nonpublication request prevents the publication. Benefit of publication The benefit of publication is that the patentee […]
Means plus function without the MEANS trigger
Means plus function language in a claim appears to be a broad form of claiming one’s invention. However, Congress by statute has limited the breadth of these types of limitations to those embodiments disclosed in the patent application which are linked to the means plus function limitation plus their equivalents. As a result, the means […]