A patent application includes several parts that together describe an invention in a manner that can be presented to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The application document itself includes an abstract, a background of the invention, a summary of the invention, a detailed description of the invention with reference to attached figures and drawings, and claims. The application is accompanied by administrative documents, such as an Application Data Sheet and an Oath or Declaration signed by each inventor.
Inventors typically work together with one of our patent attorneys to create the patent application. The patent application is a technical and legal document that technically describes the entirety of the invention and at the same time a legal document that describes, in legal terms, the metes and bounds of the invention that is protected by the patent. The application is typically a complex document that provides a full explanation of the invention, along with various options and variations and is typically between fifteen and seventy pages in length.
Each section of the application has a significant purpose and each section requires care in drafting. Patent applications that are not well drafted may result in narrow patents, patents with very little legal protection, or may result in the failure to achieve granting and issuance.
The first part of the patent application is called the Specification. In the specification, the first section is typically the background. In the background, the stage is set for the subject matter of the invention. Additionally, there may be a discussion of prior solutions, prior patents, and shortcomings of the prior art and prior innovation. There may also be a discussion of objects of the current invention and solutions provided by the current invention. The requirements and desires of this section can vary depending on a particular situation.
The next part of the specification is summary of the invention. The summary of the invention is just as it sounds; it provides a short summary of the details of the invention. The reasoning behind the invention may likewise be added here, as well as the details of the claims or the structure of the claims. This is the first section that discusses what has been invented.
The next part of the specification is the brief description of the drawings and the detailed description of the invention. This part of the application, with reference to accompanying drawings, typically, provides a detailed explanation of the invention, down to the nitty gritty. This section generally occupies the vast majority of the overall length of the application and includes details as to how the item works, how it is made and how it is operated. Additionally, this description may include the alternatives and alternative embodiments that discuss what variations can be made while falling under the invention.
The specification also includes an abstract, which provides a very short summary (typically less than 150 words) of the invention. This has been done historically in order to provide a quick means by which to determine applicability or relevance of a particular patent while searching. Generally, this part of the specification mirrors some of the claim language.
The claims are the most important section of a patent application. These essentially comprise a parts list that describe in legal terms the metes and bounds of the invention. In many ways these can be analogous to a legal description of a property. In terms of claims, the fewer elements, the more broad the patent is. In other words, the fewer elements specified, means that any remaining elements that are not identified are neither required nor not required. This can be very counterintuitive and can be difficult to initially grasp and understand. In the case of claims, less is definitely more!