I can imagine exactly what it must be like. The first time you set eyes on a patent application, it is hard to know what to make of it. Where do you start when it comes to reading it? What should you look out for?
Although your patent attorney will no doubt guide you through it, the following are a couple of pointers.
Structure of the patent application
Let us start with the structure. A patent application is made up of four parts:
- Prior art
- Presentation of the invention
- A diagrammatic description and/or examples
Tip 1 - Focus on 'Claim 1'
Claim 1 generally determines the broadest scope of protection of your invention. It contains a concise description of the invention to which the application refers. By 'concise' we really do mean concise, i.e. without any non-essential elements. A patent attorney will describe the essence of your invention as concisely as possible in this part of the patent application.
If, when reading it, you feel: 'yes, that's about right', then you should do the following: immediately look up the phone number of the person who drafted the text and make an appointment with them. Your patent application is not ready yet. A patent that only just makes the grade is of little value in the world of patents and you have to keep talking until the description of your invention is one hundred percent correct, so that you can pass with distinction.
Tip 2 - Describe your invention with conviction
The patent application starts with a description of the prior art. This text is followed by the presentation of the invention.
Do you fully agree with the description of the prior art? Does the description put enough emphasis on the problems or disadvantages you encountered? You know the reason for developing an improvement. You should also check to see if the presentation of the invention is complete and convincing. Does the invention have any other benefits?
The more convincing and complete your arguments, the easier it will be to demonstrate the inventive step (one of the requirements for a patent) of your invention.
Tip 3 - Check the variants
You should make sure that all preferential designs and the most important variants of your invention have been included. Explicitly mentioning these will avoid any misunderstandings about the scope of protection being applied for.
All that probably sounds fairly abstract, so here is an example.
Material X is attached with a screw. In this particular example the screw is the 'preferential design'. If the material can also be attached with glue or by means of a weld, you can ask for specific mention to be made of this in the description and then refer to an 'attachment' in the claims. This way you will not exclude any joining techniques and ensure broad protection.
Piece of cake
If you know what you need to watch out for, it will be a piece of cake for you to check your patent application. In a manner of speaking that is, because it is still a legal document. Unfortunately, it is never going to be like reading a book, but with a bit of help you will definitely get there in the end.