By definition, patents are specific. Because of this, it is important to understand a few ways you can protect yourself and your innovations when filing your patent disclosures. By taking the time upfront you afford yourself the potential to reduce future legal fees, costs, risks and challenges. Furthermore, a strong patent can help strengthen your position in negotiations should you decide to go down the road of patent licensing.
1. Patents… for Dummies
Have you ever seen the …for Dummies books? They do a great job of taking subjects that have the potential to be difficult to understand [like technology, sports, finance, politics, etc] and writing them in such a way that is easy to understand regardless of prior knowledge. The “For Dummies” books are a great model for how you should think about writing your patent description; you must assume that whoever is reading it does not have any previous knowledge or background and therefore it is critical to write your description so that the reader can follow regardless. This also affords you the opportunity to tell a story and set the stage for what is to follow, potentially strengthening your patent application. Take this tactic when it comes to describing the patent in its entirety: the structure, how it is connected, how different components interact, and what materials you are using, etc.
2. Describe every version of your emerging technology.
It is often very easy for inventors to describe the best outcome of their technology; after all, they are often solving a problem. The ability to describe this is called the “preferred outcome.” However, what really hurts an invention is the failure to outline the “alternative embodiments of the invention” or, in non-legal terms, the manner in which an invention can be made, used, practiced or expressed. This means that there could be less significant outcomes of an invention such as lower quality, performance, the same outcome with lesser components, the list goes on. In short, to protect yourself and reduce the likelihood of someone else being able to patent a similar technology to yours, you must not patent narrowly. Put on your wide-screen lens and describe the alternatives.
3. A picture is worth 1,000 words.
For example, if your patent includes any terms that could be deemed industry-specific or ambiguous – consider leveraging an illustration to clarify your point. For your actual invention, make sure to include multiple illustrations that show the invention, the individual parts, and the structure. The more you can detail the better for the reader. Between illustrations and written descriptions, there should not be any ambiguity to what you are proposing.
Aside from patenting, it is important to always be protecting your IP. Should you decide to enter any conversations that contain sensitive information, protect yourself with an NDA. Click below for a free sample NDA.