Brief Definition / Description of Patents

Patents are acquired by exchanging a detailed description of new knowledge for time-limited right to exclude others from its use. It is the applicant’s job to define the scope of the knowledge that is protected, in the form of brief descriptions called claims. The applicant is entitled to claim everything he can describe that is new and more than an obvious variation on what was already known. The newness is judged as of the date on which the application is filed. Thus it is always best to describe as much as possible, in an application filed as early as possible. An extension of this concept is to put photos into utility patents, so that later filed design patents can get priority from those earlier filed utility patents.

Strategic Objectives of Patents

The manner in which an invention is described maybe as broad as the range of areas to which the invention brings value. Assume the breakthrough is a valuable new part that improves a widely used machine. The company’s patent application will of course to describe the part itself. But if the intention is to capture the full value of the breakthrough, claims might also address the various ways in which the part adds value to the machine as a whole, to the process that machine performs, to the way the machine is used, to the things it produces, and also to the ways of using what is produced.

What is described in the patent must also be tailored to the methods by which the invention will be strategically exploited. The “Strategic Objectives of Patents” figure lists characteristics of patents that are desirable in order to exploit the patent’s value in different ways.