Securing a patent for your invention is a crucial step in protecting your intellectual property rights. A patent grants you exclusive rights to your invention and prevents others from using, manufacturing, or selling it without your permission. 

However, writing a patent can be challenging, as it requires attention to detail and a thorough understanding of the patent system. In this article, we will guide you through the process of writing a patent, from the initial research to the final submission.

Things to know before you apply for a patent

Prior art search

Before you begin writing your patent, you need to ensure that your invention is unique and does not infringe on existing patents. Start by searching existing patents in relevant fields to understand the current ‘state of the art’. 

Use online patent databases, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website or the European Patent Office (EPO) website. Their databases allow you to search for patents similar to your invention based on keywords, classifications, or even drawings.

Do you need a patent? 

To be eligible for a patent, an invention must meet the criteria of novelty, meaning it must be new and not previously disclosed to the public. If any public disclosures have been made regarding the invention, it may not be eligible for a patent.

As you see, not all inventions are eligible for patent protection. To qualify for a patent, your invention must also fall into one of the four categories: 

  1. Utility – these patents cover functional and useful inventions, such as machines, processes, compositions of matter, and improvements.
  2. Design – protect the ornamental design or appearance of a product.
  3. Plantplant patents are granted for new and distinct plant varieties
  4. Software – these patents cover computer-implemented inventions.

Once you have determined that your invention is patentable, you can draft the patent claim. 

Do you need a patent attorney?

You might want to consult a patent attorney to assist you with patent drafting and prior art search. As seasoned professionals, patent attorneys will quickly any similar inventions and help to highlight the novelty and inventiveness of your idea in the patent application. However, you can also file a patent claim entirely on your own. 

Get familiar with the format of a patent

Before diving into writing your patent application, it’s important to get to know the format and structure of a patent. Generally, a patent consists of 9 sections. See them all explained briefly below.

1. Description of the invention

The detailed description is the heart of your patent application. Here, you need to provide a complete and thorough explanation of your invention. Start by introducing the technical field your invention belongs to and provide background information to give context to your invention. 

Then, dive into the specific details of your invention. Describe each component, its functionality, and how it interacts with other parts. Be sure to use clear and precise language. Avoid any ambiguity or vague terms.

2. Title of the invention 

Position the invention’s title prominently at the start of the specification document. Ensure it is concise, technically precise, and descriptive while keeping it under 500 characters. Avoid using introductory terms such as “new,” “improved,” and “improvement” in the title, as the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will remove these.

3. Cross-reference

For applications submitted after September 16, 2012, claims to priority from previous applications must be stated in an application data sheet according to Rule 1.76. 

Despite current regulations not supporting the practice of claiming priority through cross-references within the patent application itself, it is still noted as preferred in the Manual of Patent Examining Procedures, leading many patent agents and attorneys to continue this traditional approach.

4. Background

The USPTO advises structuring the Background of the Invention into 2 main parts: 

  • Field of the Invention

Describe here the area related to the claimed invention. If possible, include paraphrases from relevant U.S. patent classification definitions.

  • Description of the Related Art

Discuss any existing technologies or prior art that your invention builds upon or improves. This is an opportunity to showcase your understanding of the existing state of the art and how your invention differs from existing solutions.

5. Summary of the Invention

Provide a brief overview of your invention, highlighting its key features and advantages. Keep it concise yet informative, as this section is often one of the first things patent examiners read.

6. Claims

The Claims section is arguably the most important part of your patent application. The claims define the scope and protection of your invention, so it’s crucial to draft them carefully.

Start with broader, more general claims and then proceed to more specific ones that describe the unique and novel aspects of your invention. Each claim should be clear, concise, and supported by the Detailed Description section.

7. Abstract

The Abstract provides a concise summary of your invention in a standalone paragraph. It should briefly describe the technical field, the problem your invention solves, and the unique features or advantages of your invention.

8. Drawings and descriptions

If applicable, include drawings or diagrams to better illustrate your invention. These should be labeled clearly and referenced in the Detailed Description section.

9. Gene sequence (for plant patents)

In your plant patent, you need to compass not just the gene sequence, but also:

  • Associated sequences, 
  • Constructs, 
  • Vectors, 
  • Host cells incorporating the sequence,
  • Potential applications of the sequence. 

By adding these claims, you should achieve a level of protection safeguarding you against potential infringement.

What type of patent is yours

How to write a utility patent?

A nonprovisional utility patent application is required to contain a specification, which includes a detailed description and one or more claims; drawings if needed; an oath or declaration; along with the requisite filing, search, and examination fees.

The Patent Center, an electronic filing system of the USPTO, allows for the submission of documents in DOCX format for nonprovisional utility patent applications.

How to write a design patent?

Design patents are granted to any inventor who has invented any new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. An ornamental design can cover an entire item, part of it, or just be a decoration on it. 

If your design is for surface decoration, you need to show it on an item in the drawings, with the item outlined in dashed lines, indicating it’s not part of the design claim.

A design patent application can include only one claim. If designs are unrelated, you need to file them in separate applications. The format of a design patent is the same 8-section format as described above in our section ‘Get familiar with the format of a patent’.

How to write a plant patent?

Write your plant patent following the format of a standard patent, but include the applicable section #9 for the gene sequence.

How to write provisional patent applications?

The USPTO does not issue provisional patents, instead, a Provisional Patent Application (PPA) acts as a temporary reservation, which must be promptly followed up with a formal application to secure utility patent rights.

Detail every main feature and its subfeatures thoroughly. In a provisional, you’re not making claims but disclosing your invention in detail for a later nonprovisional application. Add all drawings, photos, and sketches you have. Provisional applications are flexible about formats, unlike nonprovisionals.

Our tips on writing a patent

Essential tips for any inventor or a junior patent agent. 

  • For US patents, check all the requirements USPTO has announced on its website. 
  • And for EU patents, do the same by checking

That’s how you’ll know the font, format, and how every single detail should look on your application. Remember, your patent will be carefully reviewed by the patent examiners.

What do patent examiners look for?

Examiners review patent applications like yours, which include their unique descriptions and drawings. They would search for relevant “prior art” to evaluate the application’s patentability. 

During the examination, they identify any objections to issuing a patent, aiming to resolve these through communication or hearings. Examiners can also participate in opposition proceedings against granted patents.

In a nutshell, patent examiners detect common patent issues and have the final word on whether an idea will be patented or not.

Discover AI-assisted patent drafting

Writing a patent may seem daunting, but there are a few tips and tricks you can apply to make your life easier. Follow a structured approach and familiarize yourself with the format and requirements, so you can effectively communicate your invention’s uniqueness and obtain the necessary protection.

With the technological advancements, there are also AI-powered tools patent drafting tools that can save you tons of precious time. Learn more about IPAuthor’s capabilities.

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