What should go into your patent application? What should you leave out?
And how do you know the difference? Now updated – more info!
Writing your patent application is an art; you need to include the important information so that investors will recognize your patent’s value and so the examiner will accept it.
But you need to be careful to not disclose your secret sauce ? items that are best not described in a public document.
So what goes into your patent and what stays out?
What must go into your patent
Briefly – your patent needs to explain your idea, as a stand-alone document. You won’t be there to explain your idea if your patent isn’t clear.
Your patent needs to be understood by “one of ordinary skill in the art” like a regular computer programmer. You can’t leave out any crucial steps, components or functions of your idea as otherwise it won’t be understood.
If you were to explain the idea to a friend, what would he/she want to know? What questions would be asked? These answers indicate important material.
Similarly if you are whiteboarding your idea, which components do you need to include for the idea to be clear? These components should also be included.
Don’t make this crucial mistake for your patent
While there aren’t any hard and fast rules about what you shouldn’t include, you do need to think about whether it is best to disclose specific algorithms or design short-cuts in your patent ? or whether they should stay secret.
Don’t make the mistake of leaving them out if they are crucial to the function of your idea. Besides, designs change quickly, so important algorithmic details that you include now are likely to change as you improve your idea.
On the other hand, if they aren’t crucial but make execution of your idea easier, you may want to leave them out.
Speaking with a patent expert can help clarify what is best for your idea and your company.
The “right” answer is the answer that’s best in your particular situation. The decision that you make will affect the value of your patent – and hence the valuation of your startup – for years to come.
Take the time to review your idea – and how you plan to implement it – to reach the right decision for you.
Ask yourself these questions about your idea:
- Do you know which components are critical?
- Do you know which components you need to protect?
- Do you know which components are important to your competitors?
If you can answer these questions, your idea may be ready for a patent!
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