Parts of a Patent

by Shelly Morgan
Patent information should enable a skilled person to make and use your invention.

Patent information should enable a skilled person to make and use your invention.

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If you carefully examine a patent, you will notice that it contains several different sections. Having a working knowledge of these sections is particularly important if you are drafting your own patent application. Each section is described at length in the Manual of Patent Examining Procedures, also called the MPEP. The MPEP includes all the laws and regulations that govern the application procedure.

Preliminaries

All patents begin with a title that describes the invention, a list of the inventors, and a list of related inventions. The title should not be longer than 500 characters. Inventors are those people who first conceived of the invention. The list of related inventions — also known as the prior art — shows other inventions related to yours. You have a duty to disclose this information when you file your patent application.

Abstract

The first page of a patent includes a short abstract describing the invention. The MPEP states that this abstract should not be longer than 150 words. The purpose of the abstract is to provide the patent examiner with a brief introduction to the invention. This is the part of the patent that most people read if the patent application is approved.

Description of Drawings

Almost all patents include at least one drawing. If you are submitting drawings, the MPEP requires a table that briefly describes the drawings that you are submitting. This table appears near the beginning of the patent, after the abstract but before the body of the specification. Information in the table should succinctly describe the drawing. For example, text in the table might state "Figure 1 describes an apparatus for the generation of light."

Specification

35 U.S.C. 112 states that the patent application shall include “a written description of the invention.” This description is called the specification. The inventor must completely disclose in “full, clear, concise, and exact terms” everything necessary for someone in the field to make and use the invention. The specification includes the drawings described in the table of drawings. You get to select which of these drawings will appear on the first page of the patent, if the application is allowed.

Claims

Patent applications must also include at least one claim. Just as real property is described using the technical vocabulary of metes and bounds, claims are also written in a very abstract language that describes the essence of what is novel and unobvious about the invention. Each claim contains a preamble, a transitional phrase, and a series of one or more elements. For example, a claim for a light bulb might have the preamble "An apparatus for the generation of light." The transitional phrase might be "wherein said apparatus includes." The elements might be "a filament; a housing; an inert gas; and a means for coupling said housing to an energy source." A patent attorney or an online patent application service can help you draft your patent claims.