Understanding Patents

Keys to a better patent

There are several keys to obtaining a useful and valuable patent on your invention. The most important is to understand what it is about your innovation that distinguishes it from the prior art (everything that was known prior to the disclosure of your invention). As this is the only thing that is ultimately patentable, the lack of a clear understanding of what distinguishes your invention makes writing a good patent very difficult.

A second key is to add to your detailed description of exactly what you have or have done a broader, more generalized version which includes variations, modifications and alternative embodiments of your invention. This makes it harder for others to either invent around or avoid your patent. If your invention involves new materials, testing different variations is crucial to obtaining coverage over a class of new material rather than just the exact material you produced.

A third key is to step back and try to look at your invention through the eyes of someone reading about it for the first time in a journal. This mental exercise will often enable you to see new applications for and manifestations of your invention, both of which can be included in the patent application. The staff at TTO excels at helping inventors achieve all three.