So you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and file for a patent application yourself. Congratulations! You’ve made it over the first hurdle of becoming an inventor: Taking action on your idea.
The next thing is you’ll need is a feel for the structure of a patent application. For the sake of this posting, we’ll make the likely assumption that you want to patent a device or process of some sort — so you’ll be filing what’s called an application for a Utility Patent. (You can find out more about the three types of patent applications in another posting on my Web site.)
Utility patents are what most people think about when they say they have “patented” their invention. The following ten items are the essential elements(there can be others) of a utility patent application.
NOTE: The list below is just an element overview. I’ll go into details on each element in subsequent Web site posts — which I’m feverishly writing. You’re essentially watching me prepare materials for you in real time!
(1) Utility Patent Application Transmittal Form or Transmittal Letter. This is akin to a “cover letter” that itemizes the elements of your patent application. It’s the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) form PTO/SB/05. (NOTE: For reference, the following is a link to the primary USPTO patent application forms: http://www.uspto.gov/web/forms/index.html#startforms )
(2) Fee Transmittal Form and Appropriate Fees. It’s the USPTO form PTO/SB/17 that helps calculate your filing fees, and lets you pay the amount by credit card or check.
(3) Title of the invention. This is a no-brainer. It’s what you call your invention, and includes your name.
(4) Background of the invention. Again, a no-brainer. It’s where you describe the field of your invention (like “kitchen appliances”) and also includes information that you know about “prior art” — that is, other inventions pertinent to the invention you are disclosing in your application.
(5) Brief summary of the invention. You guessed it. This is where you provide an overview of your idea.
(6) Specification. Think of it as the body text of a rather unique “term paper” in which you describe your invention in oodles of detail. The Specification contains a number of sub-elements, including 6a and 6b below.
(6a) Brief description of your drawings. If your invention patent application includes drawings, it is in this section where you describe them.
(6b) Detailed Description of the Invention. Again, the title of this section says it all. You describe your invention in meticulous detail, including how you go about making and using it. (Historically, this sub-section has been called “Description of the Preferred Embodiments”. I’m an old dog and continue to use that subtitle in my applications. But they say even old dogs can learn new tricks — and I might even switch. We’ll see.)
(7) Claims. This is the only real legalese section of patent applications. And, for many inventors, the most difficult. It’s where you define your invention in very specific language — with very specific writing rules. In most cases, it is the language and scope of the Claims that will determine whether or not you will be granted a patent on your invention. Fear not! I am here to help guide you through the process.
(8) Abstract. Another easy one. Just a paragraph summary of your patent applications.
(9) Drawings. If it takes drawings to understand the operation or principles of your invention, you’ll need to provide them. Good news on this front: I’ve discovered a few handy-dandy techniques that help people who can’t draw (like me!) create professional-quality drawings in minutes — literally — using any digital camera and Adobe’s wonderful Photoshop program. I’ve described those techniques in some of my other postings.
(10) Oath or Declaration. This is where you affirm to the USPTO that you are, indeed, the inventor of the invention. The primary USPTO form for this is PTO/SB/01.
As I mentioned above, I am writing information for you regarding all of the above key patent application elements. I’m writing as fast as my lil’ fingers will type. Stay tuned to my Web site for a step-by-step description of each element, and ways for you to tackle them with the greatest of ease.