The decision to file a patent is big, but it’s only one small step in an intimidating process. You’ll need to gather many items together to prepare. Keep in mind some patent applications can run hundreds of pages long. On top of that, every year the patent office rejects more than half the applications it receives. With the proper evidence, you can address the common causes of patent rejection and improve your chance of success.
Patents have to meet four criteria: novelty, utility, non-obviousness, and subject matter eligibility. All of those criteria are highly subjective, so what you provide needs to be compelling. There are a few proven methods of gaining patent acceptance that you can use as you complete your application.
Supporting Your Decision to File a Patent with Evidence
The word “evidence” may bring to mind courtrooms and litigation, but it’s really just about backing up your claim that you have a patentable idea. The information you submit on your application must prove that your invention meets the four criteria:
As your examiner goes through your application, they are specifically going to focus on the four key areas. They’ll be looking for information that disqualifies you, whether it’s an existing patent that shows your idea is not unique or a vague description that they see as abstract. You’ll need to focus on a few different areas of the application to overcome this.
This is the heart of your invention. It’s a concise description that explains all the key parts. There are varying levels of importance to the abstract, and it’s all based on the examiner you get. Some examiners make the abstract the first thing they read, meaning it is how they will form an impression of your invention.
The description expands on your abstract and gives a detailed explanation of your invention. This is not just a wall of text. You’ll want to break your description down to:
- Name: This is the title of your invention.
- Background and cross-references: This covers the technical field of the invention, as well as any other related products or prior art. Here, you will reference any other patented materials, including patent numbers, that may come up during the examination of your application.
- Descriptions: These are captions for any submitted illustrations or prototypes.
- Detailed summary: This is the expanded explanation of your invention, how it works, what it does, and any other vital factors.
The description is going to make up a large portion of your application. Another large chunk of it will go into the claims you make.
You have to claim specific protections under your patent—it’s not a blanket thing where everything in your invention is automatically covered. There are two types of claims you’ll assert– dependent and independent claims.
- Independent: An independent claim is one that can stand alone. It’s the broadest claim “I claim I invented a new type of headband with fabric that continuously monitors vital signs and changes color based on health risk indicators.”
- Dependent: A dependent claim is the smaller claim that lays the foundation for an independent one. A patent application may only have one independent claim, but it will have multiple dependent ones. So, a dependent to the example given above may be: “A specialty fabric, as recited in claim 1, holds a series of small wires and sensors which are pressed against the user’s skin during wear.”
Claims are a subject in and of themselves in patents, and you must get them right. The claims you assert on your patent are exactly what you protect. If you miss something important, there could be a major gap in your IP coverage.
These are required for design patents and almost entirely essential in utility patents. They will be included in your description and should consist of multiple angles and clear labels to show specific functions. Drawings can show your idea’s novelty and utility in a way that text descriptions can’t.
Prototypes aren’t required, but they’re just about the best way to show the function of your invention. This is also the fastest way to overcome claims that your idea is abstract. If you’re submitting a highly complex invention or one with a particularly unique function, it’s wise to include a prototype to prove it’s possible.
Patent/Prior Art Searches
This will come up in the patent examination phase and be referred to in the background section of your application. These are also two distinct searches. A patent search is just that—it specifically looks at patents with claims that could be similar to yours. It then returns those results so you can determine if there is a conflict. But that’s not the only way other ideas could get yours disqualified.
Patents are rejected when there’s a public material known about your invention that could allow someone in your field to recreate it. This material fact is found in a search for prior art—which is pretty much any material that isn’t a patent, like scholarly journals, studies, or other publications. Completing both types of searches before your application will ensure that you can reference and refute them in advance by properly scoping claim writing.
Other Steps to Take for Patent Approval
It’s not just what information you present that determines the success of your patent application—it’s also how you present it. Patent applications have sections with specific requirements and language. Leaving this information out could get your patent denied on technical grounds. You may also receive other challenges besides rejections. A patent examiner may object to one of your claims rather than deny the patent outright. Objections are treated differently than denials and will require further legal guidance.
There is so much nuance to deal with after you make the decision to file a patent. It’s almost always advised that you do so with the aid of an attorney. They will guide you through the correct submissions to make and help you overcome common reasons for objections and denials.
Bold Patents is your best first stop when you make the decision to file a patent. Contact us online or call 800-849-1913.