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Learning the Patent Process: Understanding Patent Specification

You’ve got a great idea. One that you want to protect, and even make some money from. You want to share your idea with the world, but where do you start? The whole patent process can be pretty confusing.

Our advice is to understand the steps involved one at a time until you can be sure you’ve got everything covered. In this article, we’ll take a thorough look at the patent specification.



 A Little Patent History


Patents and patent law are generally thought to have started in Venice, circa 1474. The first patents decreed that all new and inventive ideas had to be presented to the Republic. This was to provide legal protection against any possible infringement.

The U.S. wouldn’t pass its own patent act until the 17th century. They called it “An Act to promote the progress of useful Arts.” This act granted sole creative rights to the person who filed for the patent for a limited time.

Patents and patent law encourage inventors to share their work with the world by offering a limited-time monopoly on their invention. In the U.S., that timeframe is currently twenty years for a utility patent.

After that, an inventor can request a patent term adjustment. If they do not, the product will become freely available in the public domain.



Patent Process


In the U.S., all patent applications must go through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The patent application process is time-consuming and often complex.

No matter what type of patent you are applying for, you’ll need to explain your invention in full and complete detail. Believe it or not, there is a requirement for an “adequate description” in a patent application.

This adequate description is a patent specification.

What is the Patent Specification?

You could think of it almost like your inventions dating profile.

It’s separate from patent claims, which layout the legal scope of protection, but includes everything one would need to know to understand your invention.

What it looks like is described through patent drawings and detailed discussion of those drawings. What it’s made of and how it is made is described in great detail. It’s even important to discuss the background of your invention, and anything that you know of that’s comparable to your invention.

Pro Tip: Include all the information you can, no matter how minute it may seem.

Full disclosure of your invention’s details is the price you pay for exclusive rights. These details should be so complete and in-depth that a skilled person in the field could re-create the invention. While also being clear enough that the average person can understand it as well.



Patent Specification Tips


Make sure you understand your invention inside and out before you get started.

Can you articulate what the invention is and how it functions? Are you clear on what the parts and pieces are that make it? How about how they relate to each other?

Do you have more than one invention, and are there multiple versions of any of them? These are important questions to ask yourself before you even begin writing your patent specification.

What follows are a few tips on dos and don’ts for crafting the best specification for your patent application.

Describe How to Make and Use Your Invention 

The specification portion of your patent application is where your invention comes to life. You should describe exactly how to make and use your invention with as much clarity and detail as possible.

Try to describe your invention so well that the average skilled person in the field could recreate it.

Think and write in full, clear, and concise terms. This is your price for that time monopoly over your invention, so don’t skimp.

Avoid Fluff

Fluff is not your friend. In the writing world, fluff is filler content. The stuff that has no real weight and gives no value to the content.

Your specification should only include information about the invention. If there is extraneous information, your application may get sent back to you with an objection from your patent examiner.

To avoid this, keep your focus. Make sure your specification includes only details about the invention.

What You File Must Be Reproducible

Take care to prepare everything in a way that makes your patent application easily reproduced. The USPTO often prints, scans, and reprints patent documents over time. Therefore, the materials you use to prepare your application must be of high enough quality to be reproduced time and time again. If your documents are illegible or incomplete, your application will not go far.

It may also be worth your while to have both physical and digital copies on hand. In the past, there have been enormous failures at the USPTO due to power losses. Having a physical copy of your application could save you if their systems crash again.

Don’t Use Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks, we see them all the time in most of our everyday communications. However, it is important to know that you cannot use them in a patent application.

If examiners find hyperlinks in your application, you’re going to get it back with a rejection or objection.

The patent specification is the face of the invention. When well-done, it presents a clear picture of what the invention is and how it differs from other inventions.

Just like a dating profile.

You don’t want to hide the face, your invention. You want the examiner to see and understand it. This is the purpose and importance of the specification.



Patent Specification Rules


There are some pretty rigid rules in regarding the specification. For example, the inventor may only claim what is described in the specification.

If you don’t include all the features and functions of your invention, it can be difficult to change after the fact. You would need to submit a continuation-in-part (CIP) application to add new materials, which can cause you to lose your priority date.

The CIP application will not get the same filing date as your original application. Therefore, in short, it pays to be thorough on your initial application. It will save you time, money, and potential headaches down the road.



Protect Your Ideas


The patent application process might be a bit complex, but as long as you can clearly explain your idea, you’re golden.

Remember to include:

  • Clear breakdown of the novelty of your invention
  • Every iteration possible
  • Every important feature, both the obvious and not so obvious
  • Drawings or sketches
  • All relevant supporting documentation

Anything less than that is significantly less likely to earn a patent.



Resources for Inventors


The good news is, you don’t have to go through the process alone.

At Patent Hacks, we’ve developed some amazing tools. Tools built from 40+ years of experience that we want to use to empower the everyday inventor.

If you are interested in preparing a patent application take a look at our Learning Center. It’s a one-stop-shop for all your patent application needs. We teach you how to search, draft, and file your own patent applications free of costly legal fees!

If you still have questions, our team is here to help. Reach out today, and we’ll get you on the road to a patent in no time.

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