How to Ensure High-Quality Patent Filings — 5 Key Steps for Portfolio Managers

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A strong patent can shield your inventions, deterring competitors and fast followers while boosting your market position. On the flip side, a weak patent can be a costly waste of effort for your team. It could also expose your enterprise into expensive lawsuits, undermining your competitive edge.

To get a patent application drafted, portfolio managers typically seek recommendations for reputable firms for drafters, balancing cost with quality expectations. However, determining the quality of the draft is challenging due to the complexity of patent language and legal jargon. A good rule of thumb is that you generally get what you pay for.

This article aims to simplify things and give straightforward, practical tips for securing patents that hold up well to provide the most enterprise value. Below are five checks to ensure high-quality patent filings:

Related: Create the Strongest Patent Possible With These 5 Tips

1. Substantial coverage

Substantive coverage is the backbone of a high-quality patent. It’s not just about documenting your invention; it’s about ensuring comprehensive protection.

This requires not only a detailed description of the invention, including alternatives and embodiments, but also a strategy that makes it difficult for competitors to bypass the patent’s protection.

A key to achieving this is conducting a meticulous search and analysis of prior art of those who have similar solutions to ensure that the patent clearly and distinctly claims the invention. This step is vital for minimizing infringement risks and enhancing the patent’s enforceability. You want claims that are broad, but not so much so as to be invalid.

Furthermore, incorporating forward-looking language that covers potential technological evolutions on the horizon extends the patent’s relevance and protection over time, future-proofing the patent.

2. Emphasis on the heart of innovation

The core innovation — what sets your invention apart — should be thoroughly described in the patent application.

This doesn’t mean a brief mention; it means pages of detailed exploration of the invention’s unique aspects, potential applications and technical specifications. The drafter should explore the invention beyond the initial disclosure, adding depth and breadth to the application. There is always a core innovation that separates from the crowd, called the heart of the innovation, and broad exploration around this point is crucial for a broad and defensible patent application.

With some patent prosecution cases that I inherited from other drafters, it was disappointing to see they barely scratched the surface of what made the invention unique. The Patent Office wants a thorough explanation of an invention’s inner workings around the heart of the innovation. Getting poorly drafted applications approved is another area where great patent counselors are invaluable.

To ensure that the patent application hits the mark, run it by the inventor and ask if their invention is clearly and fully explained. Spend much of the drafting time around the most crucial distinguishing features of the invention to have many different alternatives and technical details.

Related: Top 5 Intellectual-Property Challenges Businesses Face

3. Strategically constructed claims

The core of any patent lies in its claims, which set the boundaries of its protection. It is the claims alone that define the scope of the patent right with the rest of the application draft only providing context. Crafting these claims involves a nuanced balance: too broad, and they risk rejection; too narrow, and they may not offer sufficient protection.

Start with comparing the claims to the disclosure to ensure nothing was overlooked. This step could reveal missing elements that, once added, enhance your chances of patent allowance. Rewrite the claims thinking of how an infringer would avoid them easily. Have many claims of differing format and scope to block any competitors who might want to design around them.

Given a patent’s 20-year lifespan, it’s essential that the technology it covers stays relevant for at least 10-15 years, adapting to industry changes. The aim is to draft claims that block others from circumventing your patent, closing any potential legal gaps. Include innovation still on the drawing board that will become relevant in future years.

A practical tactic is to examine existing patents in your technology domain. This step aids in understanding the approach to claims construction. Such a review can provide crucial insights for scrutinizing the claims in the application you are assessing. It also aids in determining your contribution to the area that should be claimed.

4. Technical and legal proficiency

A high-quality patent begins with a solid foundation in both the technical domain of the invention and the legal framework governing patentability. This proficiency is crucial because patent documents, with their intricate legal jargon and complex technical descriptions, can be daunting.

Patent portfolio managers should seek assistance from professionals who not only excel in patent law but also possess a deep understanding of the relevant technology. Their ability to translate the essence of an innovation into a legally sound document is what sets apart a successful patent filing from the rest. Few patent drafters will admit where their background is lacking, so seek one who knows your technology.

Before engaging with professionals, it’s wise to be well-prepared. Check out these six things to know before hiring a patent attorney!

Related: 11 Ways to Stop Companies From Ripping Off Your Invention

5. Attention to detail

A patent is a legal document and not some marketing material from a copywriting genius. Hence, a strong patent application doesn’t shy away from a deep dive into technicalities.

A high-quality patent delves deep into the mechanics of the invention, providing many diagrams thoughtfully explained to describe the technology in detail for the problems being solved. Visual aids like diagrams and screenshots help illustrate complex concepts, making them more digestible and reinforcing the application’s comprehensiveness.

Remember, a patent with 10-15 figures explained in dozens of pages with clear descriptions, often signifies a robust, well-thought-out application.

The path ahead

Drawing on experience is crucial for achieving high-quality patent filings. The wisdom gained from previous filings, both successes and lessons learned, is invaluable. Patent portfolio managers can use those experiences to hone their strategies for future applications.

A great patent application focuses on the key differentiating factors over your predecessors with the details required so that others could make and use the invention from that description. Having a great technical background for your product allows a drafter to have the proper description and figures that will clearly showcase your innovation now and in the future.

Additionally, staying informed about the latest developments in patent law, technological innovations and industry shifts is key to keeping patent portfolios robust and relevant.

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