If you’re trying to write a patent application on your own,please take caution – it has been my experience that almost all of the inventors who attempt to prepare and file their own application end up never obtaining any patent rights and inadvertently forfeiting their invention to the public domain.  Use this guide as an outline of what you’ll need to know in order to have a licensed professional prepare and file your patent application.

A utility patent application is comprised of three primary portions (excluding all of the paperwork involved):

  1. Drawings
  2. A Specification
  3. Claims

This article discusses the requirements of the 2nd element – the Specification. In the US, a specification must consists of at least the following parts:

  1. Background;
  2. Brief Description of the Drawings;
  3. Detailed Description of the Invention; and
  4. An Abstract.

International patent applications require two additional parts:

  1. A Statement of the Technical Filed of the Invention; and
  2. A Brief Overview of the Invention.

1. The Background

The Background portion of your application should, generally, describe the state of the art at the time of the inventions conception.  It should present the problem that being solved by the invention. The drafter should be careful never to disclose the actual invention in the background section, as anything disclosed in this will be considered by the patent examiner as “Prior Art.”  Prior Art, in turn, is what the examiner will use to reject your application for ‘lack of novelty’ or ‘obviousness’.

2. Brief Description of the Drawings

This section should provide a brief, one sentence description for each Figure (referred to as a “Figure” or “FIG.” within the specification) that is submitted with the patent application.  This section should not discuss the labels or elements of the figures.  The drawings are required to show all elements that the patent application claims as the invention.  Even in the case of software patent applications, the drawings should present Block Diagrams of the system architectures or wire-frames of the user interface.

3. Detailed Description of the Invention 

The Detailed Description should answer two very basic questions: 1. How does a “person having ordinary skill in the art of the invention” (PHOSITA) make the invention, and 2. How does a PHOSITA use your invention.

Though you never need to have made or implemented your idea or invention to obtain a Patent, you still need to have a concept of how your idea or invention is made.  You are required to disclose the best way you envision making it.

The portions of the invention that may be easily derived by the PHOSITA need not be disclosed in detail in your application.  In other words, if you invented a solar powered car, you wouldn’t need to disclose how to put together the automatic windows – since that portion is already well-known in the field of your invention.  Here are some questions that your specification should answer:

  • What problem does your invention solve?
  • How does your invention solve the problem?
  • What’s new about this solution?
  • Does your invention perform a method or process? If so, describe the method step by step.
  • If your invention does something that’s been done before, but in a different way – what’s the difference?
  • Does your invention yield unexpected results?
  • What is the best way you would make your invention? (You never actually had to have made your invention, just tell us how you envision your invention being made.)
  • What components make up your invention?
  • How do you put the components together?
  • Is there a method of putting the components together? If so, describe the method, step by step.
  • Is there a special reason why are they put together that way?
  • What are the components made of?

For more information on the drawings check out our Drawings Article.


If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.

Yuri Eliezer heads the intellectual property practice group at Founders Legal. As an entrepreneur who saw the importance of early-stage patent protection, Yuri founded SmartUp®. Clients he has served include Microsoft, Cisco, Cox, AT&T, General Electric, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Coca-Cola.

Source: Smartup Legal