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A Brief Overview of a US Patent Application

There are many hurdles involved with gaining a patent. If you are interested in gaining one, your first task is to file a patent application, complete with all the bells and whistles required by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. There are a number of standard forms to fill out in addition to quite a bit of writing. A single application will vary in complexity and length.

An application might range from about 25 pages up to thousands. In 1991, the National Institute of Health tried to patent practically the entire human brain, or at least 2,600 DNA sequences of it in an enormous patent application which was ultimately declined. One of the most important and involved sections of a patent application is the specification. The specification specifies exactly what has been invented and thus, what the patent will cover if the application is granted. There is usually a great deal of background information involved with a specification.

Think of it as a report, one that relays all the background information related to the invented subject matter. You (or preferably someone you hire) will need to scour all the available references to make the background as complete as possible. From existing patents to magazine articles and even dissertations to formal presentations, everything that is available must be checked and if found relevant, woven it into your application.

The more research done, the better. At the end of the specification is a section known as the claims. The claims explicitly outline what is being patented. They are used to define the scope of an invention. Here is an example to help you better understand the claims.

Let's say an inventor invents a new type of ink pen and begins writing his patent application. He will need to write specific claims regarding the exact features of the ink pen that he considers his invention. For example, his claims will define whether the invention is only the ink cartridge or the entire pen. If his invention only encompasses the ink cartridge, his claims will need to outline whether the ink, the cartridge or both are being claimed. If only the cartridge is being claimed, then he will need to write claims directed toward the cartridge.

The claims will describe exactly what is special about the ink cartridge and what makes it different from other ink cartridges. The claims are important because they clearly set the boundaries for the invention. The claims will help the examiner decide if the invention warrants a patent based upon whether or not the invention really is new and patentable.

In addition, if a patent is in fact granted for the ink cartridge and later on, a company begins manufacturing the same ink cartridge without authorization from the applicant owner, an infringement case may ensue. In this instance, the claims will help the courts decide whether or not infringement of the patent actually occurred. We've just scratched the surface of the makings of a patent application. There is much more to applying for a patent application than this and several other components. In fact, there are a few different patent application types to choose from before you even get started. In addition, you need to pay attention to all sorts of details, such as how you mail in your application and the exact forms you send in with it.

Copyright 2006 All Rights Reserved. Visit for more information on Patent Law. Search copyright, trademark, and patent attorneys. is your in-depth resource for patent information.

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