What Do I Need to Apply for a Patent?
Most patent applications are for utility patents – inventions that have some functional use – and these applications usually have a specification, drawings, and claims.
The specification is a legally complete description of the invention you are claiming. The specification needs to fully describe all aspects of the invention that you’re claiming protection for and needs to sufficiently describe the application so that another person, who has a base-level understanding of the relevant technological art field, could replicate and make the invention. The specification doesn’t have to be a technical white-paper or a thorough dissertation on every possible aspect of the invention – it just has to meet the legally required standards for disclosure of the invention.
Drawings go hand-in-hand with the specification. Drawings are usually required to help the patent examiner understand the invention being described in the specification, and the specification needs to particularly describe what is depicted in the drawings.
The claims, however, are the critical component. Claims define the legal bounds of what you are claiming is your patentable invention. They are somewhat like a fence around physical property so that anything inside the “fence” is your claimed patent territory, and anything outside the fence is not part of your claimed invention. When someone steps over your fence into your property, they’re trespassing or “infringing” on your land. When someone makes an invention that falls squarely within your claims, they’re infringing on your patent.
The claims are also the most important part of the application for getting a patent grant. The claims are the first thing the patent examiner looks at to determine if your invention is eligible to patented if it is novel and if it passes the obviousness test. The claims must be supported fully by the specification – anything claimed that is not found in the specification will be rejected. Anything that is not found in the claims will not be considered part of the invention, even if that element is described in the specification. Claims that are not carefully considered and structured may rob you of protection for critical parts of your invention, or in rare cases may render a patent invalid.
Properly claiming an invention and drafting solid, defensible patent claims are the specialties of patent agents and patent attorneys. Experienced patent writers can help ensure that your invention is properly protected and eligible for patent grants.