In order for an invention to be granted a patent, an inventor must disclose and claim his invention in a patent application filed to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Properly describing and claiming an invention in a patent application is a highly technical legal practice with a vast amount of formalities and filing requirements.

The three primary requirements for a patent application are as follows:

1. The inventor must describe how to build and use the invention in enough detail such that ‘one of ordinary skill in the field of the invention’ would be able to recreate and use the invention based on the description,
2. The inventor must disclose the best way he knows how to build and use the invention,
3. The inventor must clearly and concisely claim what he represents to be his invention, and
4. The inventor must include figures and drawings that illustrate what he claims as his invention.

The filed patent application must then undergo a stringent examination process at the USPTO. This process is tedious, long, and costly. If an inventor files for patent, but does not have the resources or understanding to comply with the examination procedure, he may risk legally abandoning the rights to his invention.

An examiner at the USPTO will determine if the invention claimed in the patent application is patentable. If the examiner rejects an application for patent, the inventor is offered opportunities to amend his claimed invention or argue against the examiner’s rejections. The examiner, in turn, reviews the amendments and/or arguments and may either maintain his rejections or allow the patent application to issue as a patent. If the examiner maintains the rejections, the inventors may continue to amend their claimed invention, argue against the rejection, or appeal the rejection to a federal Board ñthis cycle may repeat indefinitely (so long as the inventor is willing to pay the continuation fees!).

Should the examiner deem the invention to be patentable, the inventor is granted a certificate of patent and his invention is published in a formal patent document, thereby placing the public on notice of the inventor’s patent rights.

This broad overview of the patenting process excludes the many paths and intricacies in obtaining a patent. It is highly discouraged that an inventor attempt to patent his invention on his own.

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